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Article

Evaluation of Criminal Sanctions Concerning Violations of Cattle and Pig Welfare

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Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 66 (Agnes Sjöbergin katu 2), 00014 Helsingin Yliopisto, Finland
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Research Centre for Animal Welfare, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 57, 00014 Helsingin Yliopisto, Finland
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Department of Law, Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 111 (Yliopistokatu 2), 80101 Joensuu, Finland
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Department of Production Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 57 (Viikintie 49), 00014 Helsingin Yliopisto, Finland
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(4), 715; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10040715
Received: 31 March 2020 / Revised: 15 April 2020 / Accepted: 16 April 2020 / Published: 19 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
According to EU legislation, violations involving farm animal welfare need to be sanctioned. With this study, our aim was to assess criminal sanctions by Finnish district courts concerning cattle and pig welfare crimes. We found that small cattle farms were over-represented in court statistics. The most common sanctioned violations of cattle and pig welfare were the lack of cleanliness of premises and animals and inadequate feeding and watering. The violations were shown to have been continuing for a long time before a defendant stood trial for their actions. The penalties were lenient, i.e., the violations were not perceived as particularly blameworthy by the court. Veterinarians have a major role in initiating criminal procedures, collecting evidence, and evaluating the relevance of violations. Therefore, to improve the efficacy of criminal procedures, the police and prosecutors should work in close collaboration with veterinarians.
EU legislation requires the violations of animal welfare standards to be sanctioned. Our aim was to evaluate criminal sanctions concerning violations of cattle and pig welfare on Finnish farms. We analyzed 196 court cases heard in Finnish district courts from 2011 to 2016. Almost all the cases (95%) concerned the violations of cattle welfare, of which 61% occurred on small farms. The lack of cleanliness and inadequate feeding and watering were the most common reported violations. Median time span from the start date of an offending to a judgement was slightly less than two years. Of the cases, 96% resulted in conviction. The court did not perceive the violations as being highly blameworthy as a small fine and a short conditional imprisonment were the most often imposed sanctions. A ban on the keeping of animals was used as a precautionary measure in half of the cases. Veterinarians were shown to have an important role in the initiation of criminal procedures, providing evidence for the police, and acting as witnesses. Therefore, it is crucial to achieve a well-functioning collaboration between veterinarians and the police and prosecutors. The expertise of these authorities on animal welfare legislation should also be emphasized to improve the efficacy of criminal procedures. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare crime; cattle welfare; criminal sanction; pig welfare animal welfare crime; cattle welfare; criminal sanction; pig welfare
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MDPI and ACS Style

Väärikkälä, S.; Koskela, T.; Hänninen, L.; Nevas, M. Evaluation of Criminal Sanctions Concerning Violations of Cattle and Pig Welfare. Animals 2020, 10, 715. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10040715

AMA Style

Väärikkälä S, Koskela T, Hänninen L, Nevas M. Evaluation of Criminal Sanctions Concerning Violations of Cattle and Pig Welfare. Animals. 2020; 10(4):715. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10040715

Chicago/Turabian Style

Väärikkälä, Sofia, Tarja Koskela, Laura Hänninen, and Mari Nevas. 2020. "Evaluation of Criminal Sanctions Concerning Violations of Cattle and Pig Welfare" Animals 10, no. 4: 715. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10040715

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