Crimes against animals

Last updated 09:35 07/09/2009

It's early September, which means that the latest round of pet and animal magazines have hit the stores and vet clinics. As I browse through, I'm drawn to the large number of images of beautiful cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, horses, rats and so on. And I'm thinking to myself, “How could anyone want to hurt these amazing animals?”

But sadly, as we all know, it happens. And it's disheartening to learn that it's been happening more and more commonly. I've been reading comments and heard in discussions with pet owners that “something must be done” to prevent animal abuse from happening. Yet nothing happens, until now.

New Zealand's first campaign against animal abusePaw Justice is an organisation set up to encourage New Zealanders to stand up for those who don't have a voice, and tell Parliament that the sentences awarded to animal abusers need to be harder, longer and actually enforced. Jeffrey Hurring is a 19-year-old man who took more than 30 minutes to kill a young Jack Russell terrier, Diesel, by pouring petrol down his throat, choking him, standing on his neck, and finally dispatching the dog with a few whacks to the head with a garden spade. All in front of a group of young children.

He received the longest sentence given for animal abuse in New Zealand to date – 1 year's jail time. The current minimum sentence for animal abuse is 6 months' jail time, and/or a fine (of up to $25,000 – this has never been given), although many abusers are only given community service and ordered to pay court and occasionally veterinary costs. The maximum sentence is 3 years' jail time. Hurring received his sentence in February this year. Now his lawyer is looking to appeal the sentence and have it reduced, based on Hurring's age and lack of previous convictions. The appeals Justice in this case has yet to rule.

From what I can gather, there is no precedent in New Zealand yet for the maximum sentence (3 years' jail and the $25,000 fine) to be given in cases of animal abuse. But I do know that the majority of New Zealanders would be ashamed to know that apparently there is no judge willing to set the precedent.

So, Paw Justice needs a million signatures from New Zealanders with which to lobby Parliament to change the laws for animal abusers. We know that people who abuse animals often go on to abuse humans, especially children, so I'm encouraging everyone to get behind this initiative and spread the word. Animal abuse will not be tolerated!

Veterinary nurse Rochelle Hawthorn is a co-director of The Pet Hub, a website created as a first stop for New Zealand pet owners looking for animal articles and product reviews, and to share ideas and experiences. It's also on Facebook.

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paul   #1   09:59 am Sep 07 2009

That's a horrific and disheartening list of crimes against animals but the "sexually abused" dog? WTF?

ann   #2   10:07 am Sep 07 2009

I fully support this ,but there are dogs and cats in this country that are being abused in laboratories that is legal! .In particular there is a so called scientist breeding and experimenting on Beagle dogs for companies to test drugs etc. This is not only cruel and their short lives are nothing but pain but quite unscientific in this day and age ,for more info; scientists against animal research

Please speak up and help the beagles in NZ.

n   #3   10:11 am Sep 07 2009

there are some extremely sick people out there - and this is the preliminary to doing it to humans - why isn't this taken seriously??

JeM   #4   10:32 am Sep 07 2009

I don't remember the specifics of it, but someone in Plunket did a report on the link between animal abuse and child abuse which was quite interesting. Basically proving with stats that those who harmed animals went on to harm humans.

There are some really sick people out there and this really saddens me. I love my animals and would protect them with my life.

Sarah   #5   10:41 am Sep 07 2009

He got a year?! I've always thought that animal abuse crimes were never taken seriously, yet nothing gets done. People get community service (which isn't done, I've seen it) and/or a small fine. Even 1 year for such an extreme act of cruelty is not justice! People that hurt animals like this do go onto people, but only then is it treated seriously. They do not care about stopping it before it gets to humans, or stopping the animal abuse, which has such pathetic consequences that it keeps happening, and those poor animals don't get justice served.

On another note, those animal magazines. Yes, they are cute pictures, and I agree on the how could anyone hurt them, but a magazine I used to buy I stopped buying, as they supported the purchase and breeding of "designer" dogs. Intentionally breeding mutts for profit, be it a BYB or puppy mill, is not okay. Only responsible pure breeders, who show/compete to prove their dogs then health test and pedigree check before breeding to produce healthy, quality, purebred dogs should be breeding. I love mutts, but we don't need to produce more when so many wait at the SPCA.

JeM   #6   11:51 am Sep 07 2009

@Sarah #5 I completely disagree. "Mutts" at the SPCA tend not to be the poodle x bichon (or whatever) that some people want. If there is a demand for cross breeds (there is huge demand for Labradors x Poodles) and there are no obvious health issues through this breeding, then I do not see the problem.

My two dogs are small cross breeds and I purchased them because a staffy x pitbull from the SPCA is not my ideal dog and probably should not have been bred in the first place (I'm sure most people most will agree that the poor dogs at the SPCA should not have been bred as they could not be cared for and there are more available than people are able to take care of). Not trying to bag the SPCA, they do a great job (I have volunteered there) but the dogs there are not the most "wanted" dogs around. Get off your high horse.

Skye   #7   12:55 pm Sep 07 2009

I must say, I am utterly disgusted at this. I mean, seriously, 1 year and now they're appealing? That is indeed appalling. I don't get people who think it's fun or entertaining to torture animals that can't defend themselves. I'm horrified and completely support harder sentences on such people. Where do i sign?

Sarah   #8   01:17 pm Sep 07 2009

@ JeM #6 you disagree? The thing is, all mutts can vary, even ones of exactly the same mix. There is a demand for these dog (like Lab Poodle crosses) because they are marketed as "labradoodles" and have ridiculous lies attached to them. "Hypoallergenic" "healthier than purebreds" etc. Is someone wants a dog, instead of getting a mixed breed that may or may not get the traits they want from the parent dogs (usually not), they should research a purebred and find one that is GUARANTEED to fit that, not one like a "labradoodle" that will only occassionally be a Lab build with the Poodle coat that so many people want. There are too many dogs in this world for mutts to be bred intentionally for profit. Purebreds are bred by responsible breeders (though yes there are some in it for profit, but ALL mix breeders are in it for profit) to better and improve the breed, and keep it as good an healthy as possible.

I'm not on my "high horse" - I just understand dog breeding, why it is done, and why this new trend is a bad thing.

You supported intentional mutt breeding! Bred for profit, and no other benefit. Likely they will have some genetic problems, since responsible pure breeders health test and only breed the healthy, title-earning dogs. Be prepared, in a few years, for genetic health issues to pop up. What was so wrong with getting a purebred from a responsible breeder? Chances are it cost the same (yet responsible breeders' money goes to the dogs, not them) and will be guaranteed to have certain traits and be healthy. Go do your research on puppy mills (yes NZ has them) and see where all those pet shop dogs come from (that or BYBs). Ignorant people like you are the reason puppy mills and BYBs are earning heaps of money on unhealthy dogs.

gem   #9   01:20 pm Sep 07 2009

@ Sarah #5. How can you turn a blog about animal cruelty into your turn for a rant about how fantastic you are for your "pure" breed dogs - I think you have missed the point entirely.

Sarah   #10   01:37 pm Sep 07 2009

@ gem #9 I went off a bit, and whilst I think the animal cruelty is disgusting, like a said, I commented on the magazines the person referred to, which, whilst they do have the pictures on the front and you do wonder how people can be so cruel, that I stopped buying one of those magazines. Note that the majority of blogs on here get VERY off topic! As for a rant on purebreds being fantastic - that's not what it was. Though, you obviously haven't read what I said, so who are you to comment? It was a rant on the magazine promoting the breeding and buying of "designer" mutts. I love mutts, don't get me wrong, I just hate the idea of them being bred intentionally for profit.

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