A call for a National Animal Cruelty Offenders’ Register made by a leading theologian at Oxford University has sparked a petition that has gained the support of over 12,000 members of the public in just a matter of days.
Professor Andrew Linzey, who is also the director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, proposed the register in an address at St Albans Cathedral.
The petition is to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and its original target of 10,000 signatures was passed almost immediately. It is currently gaining an additional 1,000 signatures a day.
In his address to the 400 strong congregation at St Albans, Professor Andrew Linzey recommended the Animal Offenders’ Register along with compulsory empathy training, as a “two stage approach based on Christian principles of repentance and compassion” in response to the many thousands of animal cruelty cases each year.
“Compulsory empathy training for offenders would not be a soft option. Over a period of months, even years, people who are cruel would need to attend classes that require them to confront their own proclivities toward violence and learn to empathise with the suffering of animals.”
“For those who cannot or will not undergo empathy training, or those who do not successfully complete the course, or those who reoffend, then their name needs to be placed on a national register. Those on the register would be forbidden from keeping an animal, or working with them. This register could be consulted by individuals and employers and it would become an offence to sell an animal to such a person or employ them in animal-related work.”
Commenting on the petition Andrew Linzey said, “It is good to see such a groundswell of public opinion in favour of a new approach to addressing animal cruelty. My comments seem to have struck a chord with the public. It is interesting to note that a similar petition is currently being considered by the Welsh Assembly and that there are already Animal Offender’s Registers in place in some American states. The time has come for the UK to address how we protect animals and how we try to rehabilitate their abusers.”
The petition can be found at: The Petition Site