Party for the Animals achieves major break­throughs against animal cruelty

24 maj 2023

A lifetime ban from keeping animals for perpetrators of serious animal cruelty, higher maximum sentences for animal torturers and a ban on killing your own pets. Thanks to the adoption of these three legislative amendments last week, the Dutch Party for the Animals has achieved a huge breakthrough in tackling animal abuse and neglect. Party for the Animals MP Frank Wassenberg is overjoyed: “Finally, finally, finally we can better protect animals from animal torturers and horror breeders. We have been fighting so hard for this for so many years.”

Dogs in a puppy farm in the Netherlands, photo: House of Animals.

“Animal abuse cannot be dealt with harshly enough. Formerly, our legislation did not provide for sufficient opportunities for this, but this has been drastically improved since today,” says Frank Wassenberg. Thanks to the legislative amendments, a judge will now be able to impose lifetime bans on perpetrators of animal cruelty from keeping animals as well as injunctions prohibiting such offenders from even approaching animals. “The offenders in these cases are people who have been found guilty of pure sadism or torturing animals, who have killed animals in a gruesome way, or who are guilty of long-term systematic and severe neglect of large numbers of animals.” Wassenberg continues: “Animals must be protected from people like this for the duration of their entire lives, because the chances of recidivism are very high, and the suffering of the animals concerned is incalculable.”

Harsher penalties

Animal torturers – whether this concerns private individuals or persons who keep animals for a living – who mistreat or neglect animals may soon be facing higher penalties than ever before. The maximum prison term for serious crimes against animals has been extended from three to five years, and that for minor offences from six months to one year. Higher fines will also be imposed in both cases. Wassenberg: “The fact that simple theft is punished more severely than mistreating and killing an animal is unfathomable.”

Prohibition on killing your own pet

Thanks to the adoption of the third legislative amendment, mammals kept in captivity may not be killed by their owners. Killing your own dogs, cats and geese was already prohibited, and this ban will now be extended to other domestic mammals. Wassenberg explains the need for this amendment as follows: “To me, it is impossible to explain why an animal torturer who has thrown a litter of puppies into a river, in a sports bag weighted with stones, can be prosecuted, but that someone who does the same to a litter of baby guinea pigs cannot.”

Currently, offenders can only be prosecuted if it can be proved that the animal in question suffered when it was killed. “This is far too complicated and time-consuming for the police, which means that, in practice, people are never taken to court, even if these offenders are known to the police. Animal torturers often escape punishment far too easily.”

Moreover, the new legislation may prevent pet breeders from killing healthy animals such as guinea pigs, hamsters or rabbits merely because they are not of the desired colour or sex. This happens systematically under the current law.

“Animals are not objects; they are sentient beings,” reiterates Wassenberg. “They are particularly vulnerable victims who are incapable of protecting themselves. Therefore, it is our duty, as the Dutch Parliament and as co-legislator, to ensure the better protection of these animals through our judicial system.”