Posted 45d ago
By Jilly Beattie
There is a dark little corner of my personality that can tolerate witnessing a good dose of public humiliation.
In that corner too lies judgement, anger and frustration and deeper still, the yearning to see karma in action.
I reserve it all for animal abusers, the bullies, the men and women who expose their putrid hearts and appalling personalities in the destruction of the mind, body and soul of defenceless living beings.
Day in, day out we are told ‘do not judge, do not seek revenge, rise above, forgive, forget and move on’.
Well in this case I do judge, I refuse to rise above, I will not forgive or forget and I will only move on when revenge is served cold in the form of a lengthy jail term and when the abuser’s reputation lies in tatters, and even then I will always glance back.
I will move on fully when they have been punished enough to wake up to the fact that their casual treachery was wrong, that their actions must never be repeated and that they must do good, be good, promote good and pay back for the rest of their days.
Am I being too harsh? That’s not for me to decide. This is my choice, a natural place for me to stand and I’ll take whatever judgement you rest on me.
But in all honesty I must tell you, it will not touch me.
The neglect and abuse of animals, whether pets, wild or farm, is abhorrent, the abusers worse still. There is simply no excuse for it, no reasonable explanation.
These people act in this way because they can get away with it and always get something out of it; wealth from puppy farming, cheap thrills from outbursts of violence, puffed up chests from controlling through menace or simply more time to be the useless dregs of society while not caring for the animals they have in their lives.
Today the UK and Welsh Governments have vowed to introduce longer prison sentences for animal abusers, increasing the maximum prison sentence from six months to five years.
It is a strong message that animal abuse will no longer be tolerated, that a disgusted society will not be asked to turn away.
And while we wait to see how sentencing develops, the debate is raging about the possibility of creating a register for animal abusers.
What is there to debate?
Should we not know about Kyle Keegan, 24, from Co Armagh, who bludgeoned an 11-week-old puppy with a hammer and then broadcast the attack on the internet?
Should we not know about Katie Oldridge, 35, from East Riding, Yorkshire, who left a Staffordshire bull terrier in a kitchen for weeks until it starved to death?
And what about the puppy smuggling ring in Buckinghamshire who pocketed £300,000 as they sold dying dogs to unsuspecting customers?
All of these people have been served with justice through the courts and faced exposure in the media.
Keegan was sentenced to 30 months to be served half in jail and half on licence, and was barred from owning animals for 30 years.
Oldridge received an 18 week jail term suspended for two years, given a lifetime disqualification from keeping all animals which she cannot contest for 10 years. She was ordered to carry out 12 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days and 200 hours’ of unpaid work in the community. She was also ordered to pay £300 costs and a victim surcharge of £128.
The puppy gang was sentenced to a total of 18 years, the longest individual term was 45 months. As they wept in the dock, they were ordered to pay compensation, undertake community service and 13 defendants were barred from owning or controlling any animals for the next 10 years.
But is it enough?
No, it is not.
Every part of the UK needs one single, fully enforceable, deterrent-based register of banned animal cruelty offenders.
Bans from keeping animals are worth precious little in the absence of a register and we as the public should be able to see who is moving amongst us, who we live beside, who we are being asked to trust, who is keeping animals, looking after them, breeding them.
And a register must arm our authorities with good sharp teeth, allowing it to be used to combat the breach of bans on owning or keeping animals, prevent convicts from having a licence to breed or sell animals, and prevent them from working in the animal care profession.
So today and all days I stand in judgement on animal abusers.
I will stand alone if I have to.
I will stand in a small group of others if necessary.
But I take heart from the fact that I am not alone and never will be because I feel you're standing right beside me in the same fierce determination to make a difference and protect those who cannot protect themselves.