MP Wants Tougher Animal Cruelty Sentences

A Teesside MP is spearheading moves to introduce tougher sentencing for those found guilty of animal cruelty.

Redcar’s Anna Turley highlighted Teesside University research suggesting people who harm animals are more likely to commit domestic abuse and other serious crimes.

The Labour politician, who was speaking in the House of Commons in a bid to win backing for her Private Members’ Bill on the subject, cited two recent incidents of animal cruelty in the area.

In March, brothers Andrew and Daniel Frankish from Redcar admitted causing unnecessary suffering to their bulldog, Baby, after it was stamped on, kicked and thrown down the stairs.

They were given 21-week suspended sentences, a six-month curfew and ordered to pay £300 costs in a case that caused widespread outrage.

Just last month, two men were bailed after a dog was found buried alive with a nail stuck in its head in Kirkleatham Woods. It was later put down.

Ms Turley expressed dismay that the maximum jail term for animal cruelty, which is 12 months, has not changed since 1911.

She said: “It was so surprising, and so I thought this has to be remedied. I feel we have an overwhelming case here so I’m hoping the government will take action. Because abusers target the powerless, crimes against animals, spouses, children and the elderly often go hand in hand.

“Children who abuse animals may be repeating a lesson learned at home. Like their parents, they are reacting to anger or frustration with violence. Their violence is directed at the only individual in the family who is more vulnerable than they are – an animal.”

Ms Turley said Teesside researchers Malcolm Plant and Professor Paul van Schaik had identified a clear link between animal abuse and domestic abuse in their paper It’s a Dog’s Life.

“It’s quite shocking the correlation, particularly between domestic violence and animal cruelty,” she said.

“If we can raise awareness of this issue we can hopefully prevent further cruelty, both to animals and to people.”

Ms Turley’s Animal Cruelty (Sentencing) Bill will have its second reading in parliament next February.

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