Animal Law

Franklin says 'animals are now often reckoned to be part of family'. How can this observation reconciled with the high rates of companion animals surrendered to RSPCA shelters each year?

 

 

 

 

Reasons for living with companion animals

In Animals and Modern Cultures, Franklin says because of emotional and social connections, animals are now often reckoned to be part of people's families.[1] According to the research conducted by Newspoll for the Australian Companion Animal Council ('ACAC'), 85 percent of companion animal owners agreed that pets are their family member.[2] There are many reasons why Australian live with companion animals for example, having them for their children, for security and to relieve loneliness. The research conducted by UCLA, participants who lived with companions animals are less lonely than the participants who lived without any companion animals.[3]

 

The rates of abandoned and euthanased animals

Australia is the country that has the highest incidence of companion animal ownership in the world. The research performed by the ACAC proves that a little over 8 million Australian households have approximately 33 million companion animals. This means that 59% of Australian households are living with a dog, cat or other companion animals. Specifically, 36% of households have at least one dog and 23% have at least one cat.[4]  However, from our point of view,  the  high incidence rate of companion animal ownership does not always mean that Australian accept companion animals as being part of the family. Since a great number of abandon dogs, cats and other companion animals are surrendered to the Royal Society for the Prevention Cruelty Animals ('RSPCA').

 

 

Unreasonable abandonment

Unreasonable abandonment is a breach of section 19 of the Animal Care and Protection Act.[5] It states that a person in charge of an animal must not abandon or release an animal unless the person has a reasonable excuse or the abandonment or release is authorised by law. A person will be liable for a 300 penalty or 1 year imprisonment. In spite of this regulation, a large number of animals are being sent to the RSPCA and their life is ended. According to the research by RSPCA, for the past 5 years, a total of 58,227 dogs were abandoned and euthanased and 114,181 cats were also abandoned and euthanased. According to the research by RSPCA, for the past 5 years, a total of 58,227 dogs were abandoned and euthanased and 114,181 cats were also abandoned and euthanased.

 

 

Reasons for companion animals being surrender to the RSPCA

There are various reasons why the number of companion animals being surrender to the RSPCA. First, impulse buying of companion animals and lack of responsibility can contribute to the high rate of animals in RSPCA. Second, the increased number of divorces and separations has also significantly contributed factor. In general, the parties involved do not come to a mutual agreement as to the future residency of their companion animals and as a result, they are sent to the RSPCA or abandoned.[6]  Furthermore, people tend to think of their companion animals as chattel since most companion animals, in the current market, are capable of being sold and traded  for commercial transaction.[7] In Australia, companion animals are classified as chattels or goods in every jurisdiction so that the owner of companion animals can take an action of 'trespass goods' under the tort law if needed. In this respect, we do not agree with Franklin's suggesting statement that 'animals are now often reckoned to be part of family' but rather people tend to treat companion animals as a commodity for temporary enjoyment.

 


What is the nature of 'link' between childhood cruelty to animals and subsequent violence against human? What implications does this have for animal protection law, especially sentencing?

 

Childhood cruelty to animals and violence against human

We believe that there is a link between juvenile cruelty to animals and subsequent adult violence against human. According to the research by Wilson and Norris at Bond University, Verlinden discovered that the perpetrators in 45% of school shootings in the United States had a history of cruelty to animals.[8] The study conducted by FBI can support this argument.  During assessing 28 convicted offenders, 46% of offenders self reported their adolescent animal abuse and 36% revealed childhood animal abuse.[9]

 

Cases of cruelty to animals

There are many Australian cases that prove childhood cruelty can lead to violence against humans. In Sydney, Paul Charles Denyer killed a neighbour's cat by cutting its throat and wrote on the wall with the kitten's blood  prior to multiple murderous activities in Victoria in 1993. In Tasmania, Martin Bryant killed 35 people in 19 hours in April 1996. There were sufficient indications to his murderous behaviours in the past. The Hobart Diagnostic noted he had tortured and harassed animals when he was at 11 years old, however, nobody cared about his cruelty to animals at that time. [10]

 

Current regulation of cruelty to animals

NSW enacted the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979.[11]  Under this act, RSPCA prosecuted 105 offenders for 239 offences between 2000 and 2001.[12] For example, Luke Park put his sister's kitten in a freezer for approximately 40 minutes, attempted to set fire to its whiskers, spraying it with an aerosol and threw steak knives towards it. Right after Park's case, Trevor Duffy appeared in Coffs Harbour for killing dogs with an iron bar. Both parties pleaded guilty to their cruel behaviour and were only liable for a fine of $11,000 or 2 years imprisonment.[13]

 

In Queensland, there are two legislations that can regulate cruelty to animals such as the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 ('ACPA') and the Criminal Code 1889 ('QCC').[14] Section 17 in ACPA regulates that a person in charge of an animal owes a duty of care and if breach this section, a person must be liable for 300 penalty or 1 year imprisonment. It can lead to fines of up to $227,700.  Section 18 regulates that a person must be cruel to an animal, if does,  a person must be liable for 2000 penalty or 3 years imprisonment. Breach of s18 can lead to a fine of up to $34,155.

Section 242 in QCC states that a person who, with the intention of inflicting severe pain or suffering, unlawfully kills, or causes serious injury or prolonged suffering to, an animal commits a crime. The maximum penalty is 7 years imprisonment if a person violates this section. Section 468 states that any person who wilfully and unlawfully kills, maims, or wounds, any animal capable of being stolen is guilty of an indictable offence. In any other case the offender is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to imprisonment for 2 years, or, if the offence is committed by night, to imprisonment for 3 years.

 


[1] Adrian Franklin, Animal Nation: The true story of animals and Australia (UNSW Press, 2006) 206.

[2] Tony Bogdanoski, ‘Towards an Animal-Friendly Family Law: Recognising the Welfare of Family Law’s Forgotten Family Members’ (2010) 19 Griffith Law Review 197, 207.

[3]Adrian Franklin, Animal Nation: The true story of animals and Australia (UNSW Press, 2006) 206.

[4] Peter Sankoff, Steven White and Celeste Black (eds), Animal Law in Australia (The Federation Press, 2nd ed, 2013) 86.

[5] Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld) ('ACPA').

[6] Tony Bogdanoski, ‘Towards an Animal-Friendly Family Law: Recognising the Welfare of Family Law’s Forgotten Family Members’ (2010) 19 Griffith Law Review 197, 198.

[7] Peter Sankoff, Steven White and Celeste Black (eds), Animal Law in Australia (The Federation Press, 2nd ed, 2013) 89.

[8] Paul Wilson and Gareth Norris, ‘Relationship Between Criminal Behaviour and Mental Illness in Young Adult: Conduct Disorder, Cruelty to Animals and Young Adult Serious Violence’ (2003) 10 Psychiatry Psychology and Law 239, 241.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid 242.

[11] Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW)('POCTAA').

[12] Katrina Sharman, ‘Sentencing Under Our Anti-Cruelty Statutes: Why Our Leniency Will Come Back To Bite Us’ (2002) 13 Current Issues in Criminal Justice 333, 333.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Criminal Code 1889 (Qld)('QCC').

 


Reference

 

Articles/Books/Reports

Adrian Franklin, Animal Nation: The true story of animals and Australia (UNSW Press, 2006) 206.

 

Katrina Sharman, ‘Sentencing Under Our Anti-Cruelty Statutes: Why Our Leniency Will Come Back To Bite Us’ (2002)

 

Paul Wilson and Gareth Norris, ‘Relationship Between Criminal Behaviour and Mental Illness in Young Adult: Conduct Disorder, Cruelty to Animals and Young Adult Serious Violence’ (2003) 10 Psychiatry Psychology and Law 239, 241.

 

Peter Sankoff, Steven White and Celeste Black (eds), Animal Law in Australia (The Federation Press, 2nd ed, 2013) 86.

 

Sankoff, Steven White and Celeste Black (eds), Animal Law in Australia (The Federation Press, 2nd ed, 2013) 89.

 

Tony Bogdanoski, ‘Towards an Animal-Friendly Family Law: Recognising the Welfare of Family Law’s Forgotten Family Members’ (2010) 19 Griffith Law Review 197, 198.

 

 

Cases

Legislation

 

Animal Care and Protection Act 2001

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW)

Criminal Code 1889 (Qld)

 

Treaties

Other

RSPCA, RSPCA Australia National Statistics 2014-2015 < https://www.rspca.org.au/sites/default/files/website/The-facts/Statistics/RSPCA_Australia-Report_on_animal_outcomes-2014-2015.pdf&gts

 

Jacobs, Cathy, Victoria pushes ahead with plan to restrict sales of puppies and kittens (13 Aug 2016) <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-13/victoria-restricts-to-limit-sales-of-puppies-and-kittens/7730306>

 

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