Unduly lenient sentences for animal cruelty-related offences must come to an end, says Blair

Chair of the All Party Group on Animal Welfare John Blair MLA was speaking after he and Nora Smith, Chief Executive of the USPCA, met with the Lady Chief Justice’s office to discuss the issue of sentencing guidelines for animal cruelty offences.

John Blair animal welfare

The South Antrim MLA said: “The harrowing reality is that cases of horrific animal suffering continue to occur frequently throughout Northern Ireland. However, despite the necessary legislation in place, there remains a significant and critical disparity between the number of animal welfare offences committed and the number and duration of sentences handed down by the courts.


"Time and time again, we see community service and short-term bans on owning animals being handed out to those who have inflicted severe abuse and neglect. Such verdicts are failing these animals; tougher action and enforcement are needed.


"With the recent cut to all animal welfare funding from DAERA to Councils, it is clearer now more than ever that we require harsher sentencing to send a strong message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated within our society. Every animal deserves to be respected and live free of suffering and distress.


"The APG on Animal Welfare, alongside the USPCA as the group’s secretariat, will continue to work with the judiciary to explore how further progress can be made to ensure that appropriate sentencing is given to those who inflict unnecessary cruelty on animals."