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Catalogue of cruelty revealed in Scottish animal week


THE SCOTTISH SPCA has called for parents across Scotland to take more responsibility for the behaviour of their children after another sickening catalogue of violence against animals over the past year.

Launched during Scottish Animal Week, the charity’s plea is supported by shocking statistics which show that attacks have risen by almost 20 percent compared to the last two years and that even more are taking place during school holidays.

In the twelve months since August 2006, staff answering the Scottish SPCA’s Animal Helpline dealt with 233 calls relating to youngsters tormenting, abusing and even killing domestic pets, farm animals and wildlife. More than a third of these - 85 - were received during school breaks, with 58 recorded over the summer.

Attacks included swans being killed with airguns and shot with crossbows, cats being targeted with airguns, hedgehogs being kicked to death and animals being terrorised, with one being killed, in a wildlife park.

The Scottish SPCA has also been involved this year in cases involving deer being shot and killed having wandered into urban areas, dogs being beaten and a lamb being set on fire.

Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said, ‘It is simply not right that the Scottish public should have to get used to barbaric crimes against animals and it is extremely worrying how many are being committed by children and teenagers.

‘Of particular concern are the numbers taking place once the schools break up and also the severity of these crimes. I must make it clear we are not trying to demonise youngsters, as the majority understand that cruelty to animals is wrong and, indeed, many are a credit to themselves in the way they care for their own family pets.

‘However, the continual and sickening crimes being committed against animals by a certain section of our youngsters must be addressed.

‘While it seems this section of youngsters being out of control is part of today’s society, it is the Scottish SPCA’s role to ensure that animals do not become the forgotten victims of their behaviour.

‘It is also only right that the parents of those involved start to question not only where their children are and what they are doing, particularly during school holidays, but also whether they are teaching their children to treat animals with respect.

‘Quite frankly, it confounds belief the pleasure people - and youngsters in particular - can derive from inflicting such immense and physical and mental pain on an animal.’

Between 2004 and 2005, the Scottish SPCA received 190 calls about youngsters attacking and hurting animals, with the same figure being recorded for the following year. Incidents during the school holidays rose from 61 to 63 during this period. However, that figure leapt to 85 in the last year.

Chief Supt. Flynn stressed the wider ramifications of such behaviour. ‘What must not happen is for the abuse and killing of animals to be dismissed as youthful excess and forgotten,’ he said.
‘There is extremely strong evidence that violence towards animals at an early stage is a precursor to violence towards humans later in life and, as such, these crimes should not be taken lightly by the courts, the parents or by society at large.

‘It is also essential that schools play a part and examine their role in promoting responsible and healthy attitudes towards animals.

‘The Scottish SPCA’s Education Department offers free visits to schools and our animal welfare centres, with all activities related to the Curriculum for Excellence.

‘Only by getting the message across to youngsters with the support of their parents and schools will we begin to see an end to these horrendous crimes.

‘I don’t think anyone wants to live in a society in which the life of an animal is considered worthless and can be taken so readily and cruelly.’

Anyone with information about animal cruelty should contact the Scottish SPCA Animal Helpline 0870 73 77722