Animal cruelty is rife in our country and is exacerbated by factors such as economic hardship, a lack of funding, inappropriate laws protecting our animals and insufficient law enforcement mechanisms. The National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (the NSPCA) is a statutory body established with the purpose of preventing the ill-treatment of animals. The Animals Protection Act, enacted in 1962 (the Act) and last amended more than 20 years ago, lists numerous offences in relation to animals. Offences include the ill-treatment and neglect of an animal, the unnecessary chaining of an animal, affording an animal inadequate shelter, starving or denying an animal food or water and being associated with animal fighting.
The NSPCA may, subject to restrictions and if authorised in writing by a magistrate, enter any premises where animals are kept in order to examine their living conditions and arrest persons suspected of having committed an offence under the Act. Persons convicted of an offence can either be fined or imprisoned. This being said, the penalties which our courts impose appear to be too lenient and often result in public outcry.
The laws aimed at protecting our animals, and the resources made available to enforce such laws, are in desperate need of an overhaul if we are to truly give cognisance thereto. As Ghandi famously said, “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
At Pagdens, although we do not specialise in animal rights or take on matters in this area of the law as part of our daily practice, we believe that being able to assist organisations who care for stray, abandoned or abused animals financially or by giving of our time is a privilege. When our resident cats greet us each morning we are reminded that small acts of kindness can make a big difference. We are grateful to the many non-profit organisations who make a difference in the lives of animals on a daily basis and we encourage our friends, families and colleagues to assist these organisations where possible to make our world a kinder place to our furry friends.
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