Northern Ireland

Animal cruelty: 45 people banned from keeping animals in 2018

A sad looking dog peering through a fence Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The USPCA has called for an "animal abusers register"

Courts in Northern Ireland banned 45 people from keeping animals in 2018 after they were convicted of animal cruelty.

It is an increase from the 26 people banned in 2015.

The Ulster Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA) welcomed the news and renewed a call for an "animal abusers register".

The convictions included offences against wildlife, farm animals and pets.

The figures were obtained by the BBC from the Department of Justice.

USPCA Chief Executive Brendan Mullan said the figures showed the increased effectiveness of statutory agencies in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act.

"The increase in the number of prosecutions and banning orders begs the question, have we as a community in NI become more uncaring and cruel towards animals?," he said,

"Of course, the answer is no.

"Whilst welcoming this clearly improved enforcement, the USPCA remains concerned at the ineffectiveness of the bans as evidenced by recent court cases, where individuals who had been banned previously from keeping animals were up in court again for animal welfare offences.

"Banned one day and owning and abusing animals the next."

Animal cruelty in Northern Ireland

YearConvictionsBanning order
20155026
20166538
20175128
20186845
Source: Department of Justice

The USPCA has called for a register of people banned from keeping animals, accessible by reputable breeders and animal re-homing charities.

"Such a register may not completely solve the problem, but it would be a significant step to closing the current loophole," Mr Mullan said.

"As it stands, the ultimate penalty for the most serious animal welfare offences, is relatively ineffective."

'Heart attack'

There have been a number of high profile cases of animal cruelty in the past year.

In October 2018, a County Londonderry farmer with 19 previous animal cruelty convictions, who admitted causing unnecessary suffering to two pigs, was banned from keeping animals for life.

Michael Agnew, 47, of Garvagh, was also sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for four years.

The judge at Londonderry Crown Court said Agnew "should be kept miles away from every living creature".

"Any animal seeing this man coming over the horizon would have a heart attack," he added.

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