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"Not funny": comedians join call for animal cruelty sentences that are not "a joke"

Last February, Battersea launched a campaign to increase the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty, which currently stands at six months in England and Wales- the lowest across all Europe, the United States and Australia. The current penalties are "a joke" according to the charity - but not a funny one.

Now some of the UK's best-loved comedians - Paul O'Grady, Ricky Gervais, Sue Perkins, Harry Hill and Tracey Ullman - are joining Battersea in calling for tougher punishments. They're experts of all things funny and they all agree that the current six-month maximum sentence for animal cruelty in England and Wales is "so bad, it's laughable".

Almost 34,000 people have so far pledged their support to the cause and emailed their MP to demand change, and now these comedians are urging their fans to do the same and visit the campaign's page. Paul, Ricky, Sue, Harry and Tracey will lend their faces to the cause, with posters featuring their images on billboards to pass on the message.

Paul O’Grady, who is also Battersea’s Ambassador, said, “There's nothing like looking into an animal's eyes to see how innocent and trusting they are, and it makes me angry to see the way some people mistreat and abuse them. I can't stand by and watch while those responsible for the most terrible suffering are unlikely to get more than a few weeks in prison. What's to stop them doing it again?”

Ricky Gervais added, “It’s sickening to hear about innocent dogs and cats enduring terrible suffering at the hands of humans and knowing the law does nothing to protect them, or deter people from committing these acts of cruelty. Six months in prison is nowhere near long enough for people who choose to abuse, torture and kill animals. You could get more for fly-tipping.”

Indeed, fly-tipping gets far more severe punishment then even the worst act of cruelty on animals, with a maximum of five years in prison. In March this year, according to Battersea, "a Devon fly-tipper was sentenced to 20 months, while just weeks later a Wirral man who admitted stabbing and burning a dog alive was jailed for just 24 weeks".

Battersea’s Chief Executive Claire Horton said, “No one knows how to tell a joke better than comedians like Paul, Ricky, Sue, Tracey and Harry, and we’re so pleased they’re standing up and declaring to the world that animal cruelty sentencing is not funny, and deserves proper sentences that reflect the dreadful crimes they are. Battersea’s campaign has already begun to make its mark and we won’t stop using our voice for animals who have nobody else to speak out for them. 

"We look forward to working with the new Government to make this happen. Join us and show your support by emailing your MP to call for change.”

Images by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.