What is animal cruelty?
Any person who is responsible for an animal’s welfare has a legal obligation to ensure its needs are met. It is a crime to neglect to provide for an animal’s welfare or to prevent it from suffering unnecessary suffering. This could include giving an animal a poor diet, making it uncomfortable, or causing harm to an animal.
What animals are protected?
Law protects all vertebrates that are cared for by humans from cruelty. Vertebrates are mammals, birds and fish as well as reptiles, amphibians, and reptiles. Protected insects and spiders, such as tarantulas, stick insects and others, are not protected. The law protects wildlife from certain insects.
It doesn’t matter where an animal is located – it could be at a person’s house, a pet shop or market.
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What happens if you report cruelty?
If animal cruelty is suspected, the police or inspectors from the local council or the SSPCA may apply for a warrant of search to enter a house. However, the owner refuses to allow them in.
- To search premises for business purposes, a warrant is not usually required.
- The case will be investigated, and the animal’s welfare will be evaluated.
Inspectors and police can take an animal to safety. In most cases, the inspector must get permission from the owner before they can do this. The police can ask any vet to kill an animal they find so sick or injured that it is cruel to move, regardless of whether the owner consents.
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An inspector may:
Encourage or persuade the responsible person to take proper care of the animal
Give them a Care Notice This will let them know what they are failing to do, and give them a time frame to correct the situation.
Report the case to the Fiscal Procurator Fiscal and start criminal prosecution.
A person who fails to follow a care note properly will likely be charged and prosecuted. They might also be added as a possible suspect in animal cruelty cases.
Animal cruelty can result in criminal penalties
If someone is convicted of animal cruelty or neglect, or fighting, they could be sentenced to up to five years in jail, or both.
A person convicted of failing to care for, abandon, or any other offenses of neglect can be sentenced to up to one year in jail, or a fine of up to PS40,000, or both.
A court can issue a variety of orders restricting a person’s contact to animals.
A deprivation order is a court order that prohibits the owner from possessing the animal. This order may also specify that the animal be sold or destroyed
A disqualification order is a court order that prohibits the owner or worker from working with animals.
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Someone who is banned from owning animals in England or Wales will also be banned in Scotland. They can be sentenced to up to six months in prison or fined by a Scottish judge if they violate the order.