Animal cruelty reform requires constant government lobbying, says Save the Harlan Beagles’ Manchester founder

Exclusive by Matt Simpson

Cruelty to animals should see custodial sentences of up to two years and lifetime bans imposed for persistent offenders, according to an online petition due to close tomorrow.

Alex Irving, 56,  the Manchester founder of campaign group Save the Harlan Beagles says petitions to the government such as this are vital in raising awareness for animal rights.

The current petition also calls for changes to the Animal Welfare Act and the adoption of a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to animal cruelty – which currently only results in a maximum £20,000 fine and/or six months imprisonment.

But despite falling short of the 100,000 signatures needed to spark parliamentary debate, Mrs Irving, 56, believes this petition and others like it are an essential part of the animal rights campaign.

“No matter how small or large the impact these petitions have with the establishment they continue to raise awareness of the plight of animals,” she said.

“They show the government the growing numbers and strength of feeling that UK citizens have towards advocating rights of animals and protecting them against individual and corporate commercial abuse.

“When a beagle breeder who supplied laboratories with dogs in Italy was recently closed by the Italian government, it was in part because of a petition.

“It served to swell the numbers of ordinary citizens who wanted to see an end to this cruel practice of animal torture. So petitions make a contribution large or small.”

While Save the Harlan Beagles focus on ending Harlan’s beagle breeding for laboratories and experiments on dogs and other species, Mrs Irving explained they support all peaceful ways of improving animal rights.

“Save the Harlan Beagles support all methods of campaigning and political lobbying that are aimed at improving the protection and welfare of all animals,” she said.

“They are vulnerable sentient beings who feel pain, fear, and anxiety like us but cannot defend themselves against humans.”

In order to increase the number of offenders brought to justice, the current petition would like to see animal protection agencies become part of the criminal justice system.

This would mean these agencies can continue to undertake prosecutions for animal cruelty but do not have to pay the costs of doing so.

According to Mrs Irving, changes to animal welfare legislation at a domestic level would help to pave the way for ending the scientific and commercial abuse of animals.

“Any law change that improves the plight of animals is an acknowledgement by the legislature that the public care about animals,” she added.

“A change in the law on the domestic front chips away at the government’s argument that the public sanction animal testing by their silence.”

Mrs Irving also argues the reason people remain silent is not that they do not care, but rather they are not aware animals are used for vivisection and other experiments.

“Most people don’t realise vivisection is going on in the UK and that is the real reason why they are silent.

“Our job at Save the Harlan Beagle is to spread the knowledge to the mainstream public that animal testing continues.

“Huge volumes of animals and other species are used in labs every year but the testing doesn’t do the job the pro-vivisection propaganda machine claims it does.”

Anyone wishing to sign the petition before it closes on May 31, visit:

Picture courtesy of understandinganimalresearch, with thanks

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