People of the Goulburn region and throughout NSW are rightly dismayed at the light sentence handed out in the case of the real estate agent who allowed hundreds of sheep to die in agony on his farm.
By the time inspectors arrived at the property, hundreds of sheep had died; many others were still alive but had their eyes pecked out by crows.
The sentence, a twelve-month suspended sentence and a two-year good-behaviour bond, does not in any way reflect the seriousness of this crime.
People who hurt animals are just getting warmed up. The link between cruelty to animals and other violent crimes is recognized by the FBI, which has found that a history of cruelty to animals regularly appears in its records of serial rapists and murderers.
Psychiatrists list cruelty to animals as a diagnostic criterion in the standard diagnostic and treatment manual for conduct disorders.
Numerous studies show that people who harm animals often move on to harm humans.
For example, one US study found that animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans. Another study, in Australia, revealed that 100 per cent of sexual homicide offenders examined had a history of animal cruelty.
Penalties for cases of cruelty and neglect are rarely imposed to the full extent of the law. The Crimes Act and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act allow for penalties up to five years in prison or $22,000 fines for individuals or $110,000 for corporations.
Cruelty to animals is a serious crime that must be taken seriously. If you suspect someone of abusing an animal, report it to authorities right away for the safety of the entire community.
Claire Fryer, campaigns coordinator, PETA Australia