Staff at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home see the consequences of animal cruelty daily, and are committed to giving the animals affected by it another chance of life, love and happiness. One recent case has also stiffened their resolve to see tougher sentences brought in for those who perpetrate animal cruelty.
When a four-year-old mongrel came into the charity recently staff were delighted by his sweet nature – but horrified by his skeletal state. The young dog, now named Stewart, was found by a member of the public in Sutton, wandering the streets. He has no microchip, but despite his wasted frame, he did not look as though he’d been wandering long, and is well trained. The conclusion is – although the truth will probably never be established – that poor Stewart had been kept indoors and deliberately starved.
Last month Battersea launched a campaign in Parliament, calling for stronger sentences for those who cause serious animal suffering. At the moment the maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences in England and Wales is only six months, which is the shortest in Europe. Battersea is pushing for that to be extended to five years for the worst cases.
Although happily, Stewart is gaining weight and strength, initially he had to be kept away from other residents to minimise the risk of him catching any infection which could have easily overwhelmed his compromised immune system. He is now eating four nutritious meals a day and being closely monitored.
Battersea’s Director of Veterinary Services, Shaun Opperman, said: “We were all shocked when we first saw Stewart. He’s painfully thin and if he hadn’t come to us when he did, there’s no telling what might have happened to him.
“His claws were overgrown and his coat was in good condition, so it’s unlikely he’s been fending for himself for long. He’s on a rigorous feeding regime now as he’s so hungry and we need to make sure he’s getting enough nutrients.
“Despite what he’s been through, Stewart is a sweet and trusting dog. Now we have to hope he pulls through.”
Battersea is calling on members of the public to contact their MP and call for tougher sentences for those who seriously abuse and neglect animals like Stewart. To date, almost 8,000 people have signed up to support the Home’s campaign – visit www.battersea.org.uk/notfunny to join them.