ANIMAL torturers will face up to seven years jail under a tough new offence designed to protect all of Queensland’s creatures, great and small.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said the new offence would nearly double the penalty for existing animal cruelty offences.
“Animals feel fear and pain just like us and inflicting suffering on them is inexcusable,” Mr Bleijie said.
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“To many of us, animals are part of the family and they deserve to be protected from people who think it’s okay to hurt them.
The new indictable offence of serious animal cruelty will carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and will target people who intentionally inflict severe pain and suffering upon an animal.
“We have shared the community’s frustration when offenders, who have done terrible things to animals, walk from court without serving any jail time,” Mr Bleijie said.
“This new offence will send a clear message that serious animal cruelty will not be tolerated.”
Mr Bleijie said the RSPCA would also play a major role in bringing animal torturers to justice.
“The RSPCA’s work to help and protect animals from harm is recognised and applauded worldwide,” he said.
“Like other animal cruelty offences, the RSPCA will be able to investigate and commence proceedings against someone accused of this new offence.”
RSPCA Queensland CEO Mark Townend welcomed the reforms.
“This fills a gap in what the community expects when it comes to dealing with offenders who torture defenceless animals,” Mr Townend said.
“Our inspectors and staff have seen the horrific aftermath of serious cruelty to animals and a strong punishment and deterrent is needed.
“Sadly the link between animal cruelty and future abuse of people has been well documented so these reforms will also act as a preventative measure.”
Mr Bleijie said the new offence built upon already increased penalties for existing animal cruelty offences.
“Late last year we increased the maximum penalty for animal cruelty from two years in prison or a $110,000 fine to four years in prison or a $220,000 fine.
“The community has said violence against animals is abhorrent and not to be tolerated, and we have listened.”