Animal rights demonstrators demand tougher sanctions for cruelty

An army of animal lovers took to the capital’s streets today to call for tougher laws to protect their four-legged friends.

Hundreds of campaigners gathered on O’Connell Street to fight for harsher penalties for cruelty in the upcoming Animal Welfare Bill.

Some activists sported dog, cat and monkey costumes as they marched through the city centre waving banners and posters.

Rally organisers said they also wanted a ban on circus animals and the outlawing of hare coursing in the bill, which is currently being drafted by the Department of Agriculture.

“The Irish Government simply doesn’t make animal protection issues a priority,” John Carmody of the Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN) said.

“There’s a very big problem at the moment when it comes to the situation of people abusing animals.

“They just get a slap on the wrist, but we want people who are convicted of abusing animals to get a jail sentence or psychiatric assessment.”

Mr Carmody said the current Animal Welfare Bill, which dates back to 1911, was outdated.

“It does nothing more than make sure that animals have adequate food and water and that’s basically it, it’s definitely not enough.

“We have a historic opportunity now to change things and I just hope the Government will do something and listen to what people are saying.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture said the bill was in the final stages of being drafted.

“We’re expecting it to be published in 2010 after all the submissions from the public and organisations have been worked through,” she added.

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