Rough Justice


Our courts are failing animals and perpetuating appalling attitudes towards animals.

Humanimal – Daily life of the vegetarian #19

IMG_2597ANIMAL WELFARE ORGANISATIONS in some countries really do have teeth.
Those fly-on-the-wall American programmes show the equivalent of the SPCA acting with all the authority of real police in tracking down and dealing with those who are cruel to animals.
The SPCA has no such jurisdiction, but it’s been great to watch the organisation – obviously helped no end by generous donations – take animal cruelty offenders to court on numerous occasions over the past few years.
It’s also been heartening that an organisation whose mandate clearly revolves around domestic pets has shown genuine interest in dealing with animal cruelty on our farms, and in rural environments.
In some ways it just shows the sea change that’s taking place amongst a populace who are slowly waking up to the fact that there’s no inherent difference between, say, a pig and a dog.
Disturbingly, however, the SPCA has managed few convictions, even in cases of terrible negligence, intentional torture and/or murder of defenseless creatures.

Logan Dawson

Logan Dawson

The New Zealand Herald carried one such story today. A 24-year-old farmer used real, captive live pigs to train his dogs how to attack them. During the “training”, he repeatedly stabbed the pigs, but only to injure them.
How did the SPCA (and the whole world) know about the incident? The farmer had filmed the whole thing, and proudly put the footage on YouTube. A clip called ‘Pigsty Carnage’.
“The videos showed Dawson encouraging his dogs to attack a boar, then standing by and filming the attacks, intervening to stab the boars but not causing their deaths, thus prolonging their pain and suffering as the dogs continued to attack,” the Herald reported Sue Baudet of the SPCA as saying.
It’s pretty obvious that the farmer, Logan Dawson, either enjoyed watching the pig’s drawn-out suffering, or was somehow unaware of the suffering. His lawyer argued the latter. Dawson, said his lawyer, never knew that what he did was wrong.
What that implies, really, is that Logan Dawson didn’t know that what he was doing was in contravention of the Animal Welfare Act 1999, so it’s all about the letter of the law, not whether Dawson had any sense or was even asked if he understood whether the pig had suffered terribly during the ordeal.
The upshot of all this? The young farmer was fined $8900 “in reparation” (whatever that means) and $500 to the SPCA, but was discharged without conviction.
Judge Rosemary Riddell ruled that a conviction far outweighed the gravity of the offence and would seriously affect his career prospects in farming.
IMG_2607This is staggering. In a nation torn asunder by domestic violence and abuse of children, and proven links between animal torturers and those who inflict violence on other humans, it’s more important to think about the poor young chap’s career in farming? There’s something wrong with this picture.
No wonder cases against perpetrators of animal violence are rare, when the likely outcome has no consequences except for a mild financial penalty, and no provision for monitoring to see whether the violent offender continues to inflict damage on animal or moves on to human victims.
Unfortunately, this is a country where it’s still considered manly to get out in the bush and hunt down unsuspecting animals; where wild pigs – terrifically intelligent animals that share many characteristics with humans – are seen as nothing more than vermin.
In this instance, however, it’s Judge Rosemary Riddell who is culpable. If Dawson turns out to be a career torturer, will she feel even a twinge of guilt for not convicting him for his sadistic crime? GARY STEEL

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