The 1,000th signature has been obtained for RSPCA Cymru’s new petition, calling for the introduction of an Animal Offender Register.
Members of the public are being urged to back the creation of a register, which would log those who have been convicted of animal abuse and disqualified from keeping them.
The RSPCA fears that it is practically impossible for those re-homing or selling animals to robustly ensure these bans are enforced.
Supporters can sign the petition to the #BanMeansBan campaign on the RSPCA website.
In 2016, 120 convictions were secured in magistrates’ courts by the RSPCA in Wales – the highest number since 2013. Many of those convicted will have been banned from keeping animals, but insufficient means exist to stop those banned from taking on further animals illegally.
Worryingly, since 2013 in Wales, the RSPCA has prosecuted 11 individuals for breaching their disqualification from owning and keeping animals under Section 34 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
In West Wales, a man was convicted for animal cruelty by ill-treating a dog by throwing it, causing its legs to be broken which led to amputation. His partner – who had been cautioned in the incident concerning the dog – later brought home a kitten, who was subsequently taken to the vets with fractured hind legs, a fractured skull and wounds to both sides of its body and ears.
The case highlights some of the complex legal issues which would surround an Offender Register – such as who owns an animal. However, RSPCA Cymru has welcomed that the issue is now being discussed so widely, with the topic again raised in the National Assembly for Wales, this week.
Charlie Skinner, RSPCA Cymru campaigns assistant, said:
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the public’s reaction to our campaign for an animal abuse Offender Register for Wales.
“Clearly, we need to do more in Wales to ensure animal abusers hit with disqualification orders cannot get their hands on more animals during their ban.
“Stories of those convicted of abuse, being disqualified and then re-offending against animals is horrifying. As it stands, there is little that rehoming centres, pet shops and others can do to robustly stop bans being breached.
“While there are many complex legal issues which require further debate, we’re delighted this issue is being discussed, and has received such a positive reaction from the general public.
“To have obtained 1,000 signatures in such a short space of time is testimony to how important this issue is to people across all corners of Wales, and we’d urge the public to continue to ensure their voice is heard on this key animal welfare issue.”