Evaluation of Criminal Sanctions Concerning Violations of Cattle and Pig Welfare
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
Research Centre for Animal Welfare, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 57, 00014 Helsingin Yliopisto, Finland
Department of Law, Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 111 (Yliopistokatu 2), 80101 Joensuu, Finland
Department of Production Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 57 (Viikintie 49), 00014 Helsingin Yliopisto, Finland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 March 2020
Revised: 15 April 2020
Accepted: 16 April 2020
Published: 19 April 2020
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.