Cruelty to Animals = Cruelty to People?

Its with great interest that i read Yvonne Foong’s email this morning, and also on the Project Petaling Street Blog.

…The current cruelty fine is RM200, which is an unfair price for the life of an animal. With laws like that, no wonder people aren’t thinking twice before neglecting their pets and walk away with it…

…Increasing the cruelty fine from RM200 (since 1953) significantly higher to around RM 10,000.00 and increase jail time…

I love my cat, Jess, and i am very fond of animals in general, but it seems way overboard the punishment that is being proposed. Punishment should be proportionate to the crime, and a RM10k fine and jailtime for being cruel to an animal seems to be grossly disproportionate. It all seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to the recent case of animal abuse in the newspapers.

Pet owners are probably very emotional in their arguments:
Imagine this happening to your pet — wouldn’t you want the abuser to be punished?
Imagine someone doing this to you!
We must teach these abusers a lesson!
A larger penalty would deter would-be abusers!

The truth of the matter is, none of the above make much sense, none of the above are likely to happen. Something like this won’t happen to Jess because i’m her owner, and i’m not like that, something like this would never happen to me (and if it did, God forbid, the law already provides adequate protection and punishment), people who abuse their pets are probably not very nice people — using the law to try and change that is probably not going to work; the law cannot make a bad person nice.
But look at the flip side — if passed, harsher laws can have an immense impact on the abuser. Abuse the abuser??
A large penalty could bankrupt a person. Imagine the person has a family. Now bankrupt, he will never get a bank loan again — imagine he has many smart kids, but because he can’t afford it, the only way he could afford to give them a good education is via an education loan. Because he’s bankrupt, he won’t get it. The punishment not only punishes the abuser, it punishes the people around him.
How about sending the abuser to jail, as suggested? He abused his pet, we’ll lock him up for 12 months (the current law allows for up to 6 months jailtime). Who looks after his family during this time? Certainly, he’ll be dismissed from his job, what will he do for work when he is released; which employer feels good about hiring an ex-con? His life is forever plagued by a major criminal record.
Certainly, people who abuse their pets deserve to be punished, but come on, we’re talking about an animal here. The sort of penalties the animal lovers are proposing now can ruin human lives. It just doesn’t seem proportionate at all — abuse an animal, and the Government destroys your life. I thought that sort of punishment was reserved for crimes against people. Since when do animals = humans?
No, i won’t sign that petition and i urge you not to either. If the law seems too lax in its current form, perhaps it can be modified to include community service time — an animal abuser has to perform community service e.g. with the SPCA for 100 hours, or attend mandatory counselling (a lot of animal abusers suffer from rage and anger management issues). It makes more sense to be constructive in the punishment for animal abusers rather than retributional.


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