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Call for harsher penalties

David SalvaireSound Telegraph
Animal Welfare Op Shop Rockingham supervisor Sandy Clarson wants animal cruelty laws strengthened.
Camera IconAnimal Welfare Op Shop Rockingham supervisor Sandy Clarson wants animal cruelty laws strengthened. Credit: David Salvaire

A Rockingham animal welfare collective has joined a growing chorus of voices calling for changes to animal cruelty laws following a spate of disturbing cases across WA.

The RSPCA recently launched a campaign aimed at solving a number of incidents which included footage of a skinned cat and an emaciated puppy dumped in a bag on a vacant block.

The campaign comes weeks after a man who fatally stabbed a dog to death in a Perth park was handed a seven-month suspended jail term, and a 20-year-old fly-in, fly-out worker also fined $4000 for kicking a quokka on Rottnest Island.

Animal Welfare Op Shop Rockingham supervisor Sandy Clarson said the message was not getting through to people that violence against animals was wrong.

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“I think there needs to be harsher punishments because these things keep happening,” she said.

“A person can retaliate to cruel treatment but an animal can’t.”

Current animal cruelty penalties can include a fine of up to $50,000, a jail term of up to five years, and potential prohibition from owning or coming into contact with animals.

RSPCA WA chief executive David van Ooran said the organisation could not comment on legislative processes but said there had been a backlash over recent decisions.

“The recent spate of animal cruelty incidents has prompted a strong response from the WA community, which suggests that their expectations of appropriate punishment/sentencing are considerably higher than the punishments/sentences being handed down,” he said.

“While we need to respect the decisions of the courts, we have been advising people with concerns to contact the people who have the power to change the laws. That’s their local MPs and the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Alannah MacTiernan, allowing them to voice their frustration and ensure they are being heard.”

Mr van Ooran said education and greater presence of RSPCA inspectors would help curb the number of animal cruelty cases in WA.

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