New Zealand Dog News

Reviewing the dog news in New Zealand with editors comments. Someone needs to keep reviewing how our dogs are doing in society.

May 03, 2010

Bill lifts penalties for people who abuse animals

People who own animals after having previously abused them may soon face stiffer penalties, including up to three years' prison or a $350,000 fine.

The recommendations are part of the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, reported back from the primary production select committee last week.

The bill, which would significantly increase penalties for cruelty to animals, was adopted by the Government after originally being a private bill sponsored by Tauranga MP Simon Bridges.


It would also increase penalties for all offences against animals, doubling the maximum fines and increasing the maximum prison sentence.

Maximum fines for wilful ill-treatment would double to $100,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a company.

A new recommendation from the committee is to increase penalties for those who own animals but have been previously disqualified from doing so.

For an individual, the maximum penalty would increase from a six-month prison term or a $50,000 fine to a three-year prison term and a $75,000 fine.

For a body corporate the fine would go from $250,000 to $350,000.

The report says this would "send a clear message that offending against animals will not be tolerated".

It also recommends that where an owner is convicted of animal abuse charges, his or her animals be put in the care of an approved organisation.

If the abuse was at the hands of someone other than the owner, the owner would be allowed to keep them.

The committee said the law changes alone would not bring about less cruelty to animals, "especially since only 10 people have ever been jailed in New Zealand as a result of animal cruelty charges".

"Some of us are concerned that there are only five Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry inspectors in New Zealand to undertake prosecutions for animal cruelty and there are insufficient resources to pursue all cases of cruelty, with 92 per cent of complaints made to the SPCA," the report says.

Agriculture Minister David Carter has said there is a need for more resources.

The bill will return to the House for its second reading.


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