There’s a lot to be angry about these days. Ever since a couple of lunatics decided to commit the ‘Wellsford Massacre’, by emptying their shotguns into a shed full of puppies, the media has been alight with stories about animal welfare. In one sense, that’s good. We certainly need to be paying more attention to what is, sadly, a prevalent problem. Nonetheless, there’s a lot to get angry about from the media coverage as well. I’m not sure whether it’s the media, the killers up in Wellsford, some lady calling me a dick-head, or a combination of all these things, but I’m feeling pretty steamed. Rather than attempt a coherent blog in this state, I’ll throw out a few points on the ‘things that are making me mad’, and hope it makes some degree of sense in the end.
Before doing so, a disclaimer. I worry some times that people read parts of my comments rather than the whole. So let me state this loud and clear: I am not against punishing people who commit cruelty against animals. Far from it. I’ve done as much to try and get sentences fairly applied as anyone, and have written legal articles, drafted submissions to Parliament and worked with prosecutors to bolster sentences for animal abusers. It is, to be sure, a component of what needs to happen in order to have a country that treats animals better than it currently does. Nonetheless, as you’ll see from my comments below, I have serious reservations about the way this has suddenly become ‘the answer’ to our problems.
My Talk with Simon Bridges, MP
A few weeks before he introduced his new Bill to raise the maximum penalty for wilful ill-treatment to animals causing death from three to five years, Simon Bridges called me to see what I thought. I told him I thought it would do absolutely nothing for animals, and might even set back the cause. I think he was taken aback, as my position seemed both counter-intuitive and contrary to the ‘animal lover’ position. So I explained. The problem, as I see it, is not the maximum sentence for the single most serious crime relating to animals. A three year maximum, believe it or not, is fairly high by New Zealand standards. Sure, judges rarely impose the maximum, but that’s true for all crimes. Nonetheless, the three year maximum is not out-of-whack with other jurisdictions, and gives plenty of room to get jail time for those who commit horrid acts. Continue reading