Northern Ireland

325 animals seized in NI over cruelty complaints in 2017

Images of the puppy that was kicked Image copyright PSNI
Image caption PSNI Craigavon posted images of a dog following an incident of animal cruelty in October 2017

Almost 300 animals were seized by council officials in Northern Ireland last year following complaints of cruelty.

The police seized a further 25 animals on the same grounds.

The figures are in the first report giving a statistical breakdown of cruelty reports and outcomes. Three separate bodies have responsibility for the area.

Councils deal with domestic pets and horses.

The PSNI has the powers to deal with welfare offences involving wild animals and animal fighting or other criminality.

The responsibility to enforce legislation on farmed animals rests with the Department of Agriculture and Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) which published the report.

'Prevention better than cure'

Head of Animal Health and Welfare for DAERA, Jackie Robinson said: "Putting these figures in the public domain is an important step for the department to highlight the issue of animal welfare.

"Obviously, prevention is better than cure when it comes to the mistreatment of animals, and the vast majority of owners and keepers comply with their duty of care.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The figures are in the first report giving a statistical breakdown of cruelty reports and outcomes

"However, these figures show that, when animal welfare cases arise, enforcement bodies will investigate and impose penalties where appropriate, and do so in partnership with the wider authorities."

Across the three agencies there were 46 convictions in 2016/17.

Suspended sentences

DAERA carried out 226 inspections following complaints about the condition of farm animals.

A breach was detected in around 10% of cases.

The police prosecuted 13 cases which led to five convictions.

In each case the penalty was a suspended sentence.

Councils concluded 21 criminal cases in year, each of which resulted in a prosecution. Penalties ranged from fines to bans on keeping animals to custodial sentences.

The requirement to produce an annual statistical report followed a review in 2015 of the implementation of the 2011 Welfare of Animals Act.

This is the first such report.

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