dog

Every now and then a story pops up on the news about horrific animal abuse. Often we see a Dogs Trust advert (the one about yesterday’s dog breaks my heart so much I’m glad I haven’t seen it for a while) or a post on Facebook about how vile Sea World is.

After the media frenzy for a few hours, we forget about it and move on with our lives.

We’re a nation of dog-lovers, though, and that counts for something. It means we’re appalled by YuLin, the Chinese festival in which dogs are burnt alive and eaten, and we are outraged by the case of two men from Newcastle hammering a nail into their dog’s head to kill it so a vet bill to euthanize the poor animal wouldn’t have to be paid.

The fox hunting petition we signed was effective, though, and it’s not legal in the UK. That is a sign of us humans using our power as humans to protect the vulnerable and the voiceless, some of which have four legs: animals.

UK law has a maximum sentence of 12 months for animal cruelty which is the longest sentence that has been given to some of the sickest people in the country. Charities and campaigners say it should be longer – and I bloody well agree with them. How can you justify only giving someone 12 months for killing a dog for no reason? How can you justify only giving someone a 12 month sentence (of which they’ll probably only serve six because of good behaviour) after they have abused an animal so much it is incapable of dealing with human contact?

The answer is you can’t. And we should make it much more of an issue in this country, especially in the north east where we have the highest animal cruelty numbers. Raise the sentence and make it a cultural condemnation.