Animal Cruelty

Members' Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 10:30 am on 28 May 2024.

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Photo of Gary Middleton Gary Middleton DUP 10:30, 28 May 2024

Today, I want to address a deeply troubling issue that has, once again, surfaced on social media: a video showing an appalling attack on an innocent dog in the north-west. The disgusting acts in the video are too graphic to describe. Sadly, however, the dog did not survive. This heartbreaking incident has not only shocked us but, once again, brought into focus the need for immediate and decisive action.

Animal cruelty is a heinous act that reflects the darkest aspects of human behaviour. When we witness such violence against a defenceless animal, it is a stark reminder of the cruelty that can exist in our society. Animals like the dog in that video trust us and depend on us for their well-being. Betraying that trust through abuse is morally and legally unacceptable.

The current penalties for animal cruelty are clearly insufficient to deter such acts. Too many perpetrators receive minimal punishment, which sends the wrong message that animal lives are not valued. We need to change that. The justice system must treat animal cruelty with the seriousness that it deserves, reflecting the profound emotional and social impact that those acts have in our communities.

I call on the Justice and AERA Ministers to urgently come together and act on this growing injustice in our society. Stricter sentencing for animal cruelty is essential. It will serve as a strong deterrent to potential abusers and provide a measure of justice for the victims: the animals and the communities that are affected by those crimes. Harsher penalties will also reflect our society's commitment to protect all living beings and uphold humane values.

I commend all the organisations that provide support and shelter for animals; the many groups, such as Justice for Luna, that have used their voices to speak up for innocent animals; and the overwhelming number of responsible owners who love and cherish their animals. We need Ministers across the Executive to work together to bring about tougher sentencing laws for animal cruelty. By doing so, we can help to ensure that those who commit such abhorrent acts are held accountable and that no animal has to endure such suffering again.