Protesters want courts to get tough on animal abuse

Animal rights activists held a protest in Johannesburg on Monday, demanding heavier sentences for animal abusers and that animal abuse be taken seriously.

“Punishment for the most horrendous acts of violence against animals rarely exceeds a miniscule fine and one is forced to question if our country takes the offence of animal abuse seriously,” read their press statement.

Protesters aimed their demands at Constitutional Court Chief Justice Pius Langa.

“For too long animal abuse has gone almost unrecognised by the South African legislature,” the group said in their press statement.

Spokesperson for the protesters Katherine Robertson said they also wanted people to know that animal abuse was connected to human abuse.

A study carried out in a battered women’s shelter in Utah, United States, reported that spouses of 71% of the women there had initially abused their pets and then had gone to abuse their children and wives.

The activists said that children who witness animal abuse are far more likely to experience mental illness, and many of the children go on to abuse animals.

Robertson pointed out a case in which she felt that the sentence imposed was too lenient.

A man had allegedly dragged his dog behind his bakkie at 30kph. He was only given a R4 000 fine and told that he could own a pet after a year.

The protesters pleaded with the public to contact Chief Justice Pius Langa (on langa@concourt.org.za) and explain why they felt that animal abusers deserved a heavier sentence.

The protest in Braamfontein was attended by a handful of activists carrying placards, which read: “Animal abuse is family violence”, “People who abuse animals will abuse children”, “Abuse an animal, go to jail”, “Harsher sentences for animal abuse” and “In a violent family everyone could be a victim.”

Similar protest actions were held in Durban and Cape Town.

Monday marked the International Animal Rights Day.—Sapa

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