ANIMAL cruelty, including beating, kicking, overloading, torturing, abandonment, causing unnecessary suffering, terrifying, cruelly tying up, cruelly transporting, using animals for fighting, poisoning will now attract a maximum fine of $200, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The new fines became effective following the amendment of the Finance Act which saw the standard scale of fines in the Criminal Law code changing. A level Five fine for animal cruelty, which is the highest, was $20 and is now pegged at $200.
Section 3 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act states that any person who commits an offence shall be “liable to a fine not exceeding Level five or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
The Zimbabwe Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has commended Government for reviewing the fines upwards.
ZNSPCA chief inspector Ms Glynis Vaughan welcomed the new schedule of fines.
“With the increase in fines, animal cruelty offenders will find it more difficult to find the money to avoid court. Court appearances can be costly as offenders will need legal representation and magistrates can order offenders to pay all expenses incurred by SPCA for the case. Hence ZNSPCA welcome this increase in fines as we hope it will deter potential animal cruelty offenders from committing crimes against animals,” she said.
Separate charges may be brought against any person or persons in respect of each animal if more than one is concerned as provided for in Section 14 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
“ZNSPCA believe this Act is comprehensive and extremely effective and is far superior to most animal cruelty acts around the world,” said Ms Vaughan.
She cited illegal transportation of animals as one of the most common animal cruelty offences in the country.
“The more common cases of animal cruelty dealt with in towns are incidences involving companion animals (dogs and cats).
For example, chaining dogs up, neglecting pets, beating dogs. Outside of towns, the hard working donkey gets abused the most with owners beating them, overloading them and using ill-fitting harnesses that cause extensive wounds that owners leave untreated. Another common occurrence of animal cruelty is illegal livestock transportation. Owners overload vehicles, tie up livestock on trucks, travel unreasonable distances without providing water for the livestock,” she said.
Ms Vaughan said about 80 percent of cases of animal cruelty were due to ignorance. She said her organisation was thus taking education as the first option as opposed to prosecution as a way of reducing animal cruelty.
“In most instances, our inspectors educate the owners in order to improve the welfare of the animals in question. But where there is blatant cruelty, inspectors take the case to ZRP where they are charged with an offence,” she said.
Ms Vaughan revealed that her organisation was also working with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to have animal welfare included in the curriculum.
“By educating our children on all animal welfare issues we will be creating a non violent society for our country,” she said.
ZNSPCA is the umbrella body for all Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals branches in Zimbabwe that work in the detection and prevention of animal cruelty.