NSW becomes first state to impose a lifetime ban on criminals convicted of serious animal cruelty

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A new law prohibits people convicted of serious cruelty from owning, working or breeding animals at any time in their lives.

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James Aspey, a high-profile Australian vegan influencer, has likened the killing of animals for human consumption to the Holocaust.

James Aspey, a high-profile Australian vegan influencer, has likened the killing of animals for human consumption to the Holocaust.

This dog was the victim of a woman convicted of animal cruelty in South Australia last week. Image: RSPCASource:Supplied

Perpetrators of unthinkable animal cruelty will be subject to an immediate, lifetime ban on working with and owning animals under a new law passed overnight in NSW.

The state was the first in Australia to introduce harsh punishment for animal abusers, following a protracted campaign by Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst.

People previously convicted of extreme cruelty or fetish-related assault, such as bestiality, were allowed to continue working with or caring for animals in NSW.

Under the new laws, anyone convicted of serious animal cruelty or bestiality under the Crimes Act 1900 will automatically be subject to a mandatory lifetime ban on animals.

The new legislation increased the sentences eightfold for convicted animal abusers, shifting NSW from the state with the weakest animal cruelty laws to the strictest, Ms Hurst said.

RELATED: NSW Introduces Tougher Fines And Prison For Animal Abuse

This dog was the victim of a woman convicted of animal cruelty in South Australia last week.  Image: RSPCA

This dog was the victim of a woman convicted of animal cruelty in South Australia last week. Image: RSPCASource:Supplied

“Shockingly, no one has ever been banned from animal guardianship or working with animals after a successful conviction of serious animal cruelty or bestiality in NSW,” said Ms Hurst.

« Now those found guilty are automatically banned from caring for or working with animals – for life. »

Since she started her campaign for tougher sentences two years ago, Ms Hurst said she had witnessed « horrifying » cases of convicted abusers being allowed to continue to breed, work with and buy animals.

Former cases ‘inadequately sanctioned’

« There have been far too many cases where the sentences just don’t match the crimes, » she said.

In one case, a petting zoo operator was charged in 2020 after stabbing a dog six times with a pitchfork and hanging it from a tree where it lay to die for hours.

Another person was found to have tortured and killed kangaroos with a knife, while another was convicted after shooting arrows at a puppy.

“Unfortunately, no one convicted of these acts has been banned from working with or caring for animals, which means that animals are still at risk from these perpetrators today,” Ms Hurst said.

She also hinted at a link between animal cruelty and violence against humans, citing a federal police investigation in which 20 men were charged with more than 1,000 offenses involving both child sexual abuse and bestiality.

« Giving these perpetrators access to animals, knowing they are capable of such acts with minimal punishment, opens a door for them to repeat themselves, » she said.

« This is a distressing thought when there is evidence that animal and human abuse are so closely linked and evident in many cases of domestic violence and child abuse. »

New law celebrated online

Before being elected, Ms. Hurst worked as a registered psychologist and ran an animal rehoming service.

“We are hopeful that the increased sentences, along with our life bans on those convicted of owning or working with animals, will have a significant impact on animal cruelty cases in NSW, and more,” she said.

Thousands have responded to celebrate after the news was shared online, with people calling the legislation a huge win for animals.

« That’s fantastic news, so happy that these perpetrators will never get their hands on animals again after this horrible type of crime, » one person wrote in a Facebook comment.

« Now fingers crossed that the rest of Australia follows these wonderful laws, » said another.

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