Why your hungry cat might land you in jail

Pet owners will pay up to Sh200,000 in fines or go to jail for up to two years if they are found guilty of mistreating their animals.

Under proposals contained in the Animal Welfare Bill 2018, the county government has introduced tougher penalties to punish perpetrators of animal cruelty.

This comes barely three months after a man was sent to jail for slaughtering a cat.

In the proposals awaiting approval by the county assembly, anyone found guilty of slaughtering an animal in a manner that causes it more suffering than necessary will pay a fine not exceeding Sh100,000 or go to jail for two years, or both.

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It also prohibits the slaughtering of an animal while others watch.

In addition, taking or circulating videos or pictures of animals being mistreated will cost offenders Sh200,000 in fines or up to two years in jail.

Animal owners are also expected to provide them with enough food and water, conducive and sanitary conditions, and a clean environment that is not over-crowded.

The Bill mandates animal owners to provide ventilated shelters sufficient to provide “adequate protection from the elements and weather conditions suitable for the age, species and physical condition of the animal”.

If approved by the county assembly, the proposed legislation will create a committee known as the County Animal Welfare Committee whose responsibilities will be to establish an animal shelter to care for rescued animals.

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The committee will also formulate or review regulations relating to the welfare of animals in consultation with the county executive committee.

The Bill, sponsored by Agriculture and Livestock Executive Immaculate Njuthe, further prohibits certain performances and exhibitions that involve untrained animals.

It also bars enticing animals to fight for sports and entertainment.

Anyone found guilty of these offences will be liable to a fine of up to Sh100,000 or two years in jail, or both.

The Bill also says a person who commits animal abuse that does not cause serious injury or death is guilty of a serious crime, while a person who causes serious injury is guilty of an aggravated crime.

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According to Dr Njuthe, the Bill has received wide support and is expected to be tabled in the county assembly this week, after ward reps resume sittings after a long recess.

Minimise cruelty

Njuthe expressed confidence that, if passed, the new law would minimise cases of cruelty against animals in the county, ensure decent care for domestic animals and protection for stray wildlife.

There have been a number of cases of animal cruelty and neglect in the county in the recent past.

In June, James Kimani, 26, was jailed for slaughtering a cat for the purpose of human consumption in Nakuru town. He also pleaded guilty to slaughtering the cat in an undesignated place.

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There was also an outcry against the mistreatment of donkeys in Naivasha and scores of neglected animals roaming the streets and estates.

Pet ownersAnimal Welfare Bill 2018BillDr NjutheCatsNakuru County