Belfast Telegraph

Hundreds attend animal rights rally: Public protest in Belfast city centre against animal cruelty

Hundreds of people have descended on Belfast city centre for a public rally against animal cruelty.

Many of those turning up to show their support also brought their own pets - with a variety of pooches also lending a helpful paw.

A new support group – Northern Ireland Says No To Animal Cruelty – is demanding a dedicated PSNI unit to tackle crimes against animals.

The latest action comes after one of the major recent cases of animal cruelty heard in the courts saw three members of an east Belfast family walk free.

Jeremiah Kirkwood (43) and sons Chris (23) and Wayne (20), of Island Street, admitted keeping animals for fighting, while Jamie Morrow (19) admitted similar charges in what a judge termed "one of the vilest examples of premeditated abuse". They were banned from keeping, dealing in or transporting animals for 10 years. However, as the Belfast Telegraph revealed earlier this month, there is no central list of those banned from keeping animals for welfare officers to refer to.

Another recent case that sparked disgust was the setting fire to collie dog Cody in Maghaberry in August 2012. Two people are currently going through the courts system accused of the attack on the dog, who later died.

Alliance MP Naomi Long backed calls for tougher sentences for those convicted of animal cruelty offences.

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