October 17, 2006
The majority of people believe crimes against animals should carry the same penalties as those against humans, according to a new survey.
The poll found 51% of people feel as strongly about cruelty to animals as the mistreatment of others.
And four out of five people believe those responsible for animal cruelty should be dealt with more harshly by the courts.
The findings will reinforce the image of British people as a nation of animal lovers. They were the result of a poll of more than 1,000 people conducted last month for Halifax Pet Insurance.
They came after RSPCA figures released earlier this year found a worrying rise in animal cruelty.
The charity said it had recorded a 6% rise in the number of complaints and a 20% increase in the number of convictions secured over the previous year.
Animal psychologist Dr Roger Mugford, of Chertsey, Surrey, said: "Most people accept that we have a duty of care towards all animals.
"When individuals intervene to stop cruelty, they also create indirect benefits for human society.
"For instance, psychological profiles of people who inflict cruelty on animals show that they are also more likely to be violent towards people.
"Dogs subject to cruel treatment or deprivation are also more likely to display aggressive behaviour."
Vicky Watson of Halifax Pet Insurance said: "Britain is a nation of pet lovers and simply will not tolerate cruelty to animals."