By Wirnida Azman
Recent high profile cases of animal cruelty in Western Australia have raised questions about the adequacy of punishments for offenders.
Earlier in April, two French tourists pleaded guilty in Fremantle Magistrates’ Court to setting a quokka on fire at Rottnest Island.
Thibaud Jean Leon Vallete, 24 and Jean Mikael Batrikian, 18, who were on a working holiday visa, were sacked from their casual jobs, fined $4,000 and placed in custody for 7 days or until the fine was paid.
There was an uproar on social media suggesting the fines imposed were not sufficiently heavy given the injury and distress to the quokka.
“It is uncertain how much it would cost to heal the quokka back to its original state but an X-ray alone on a quokka would cost $850,” said veterinary nurse Carrie Noack who works in Booragoon.
Nick Pendergrast, deputy coordinator at Animal Rights Advocates Inc said $4,000 is a pretty minor fine for horrible acts towards a quokka but because animals are seen as property under the law and not as beings with rights, the amount of the fine imposed made some sense.
“People should not only focus on direct cruelty to animals but also indirect cruelty which includes animal testing on products such as soaps and shampoos”.
Mr Prendergast believes a lot pf products purchased from supermarkets are harmful to animals but consumers are unaware of it.
He says people are more responsive when animals are harmed directly as they are able to see the direct impact on the animal as compared to animals harmed in the process of manufacturing certain products used by people.
Mr Prendergast believes while hefty fines for animal cruelty might help to prevent more cases in the future, educating the public about harming animals indirectly would also be a useful step to stop animal cruelty.