RSPCA's $430k in unpaid penalties
THE RSPCA Queensland wants convicted animal murderers to pay-up for their crimes.
The animal welfare organisation revealed yesterday it was owed more than $430,000 in unpaid cruelty fines from felonies committed as long as 15 years ago.
Wednesday's death of Fleet the koala, who was shot seven times in October last year, has prompted the organisation to reveal the staggering figure and call for a government crackdown on animal cruelty.
RSPCA community relations manager Michael Beatty said the amount owed to the organisation was disgusting.
"People are given these fines and then allowed to pay $5 a month for however long it takes," Mr Beatty said.
"It makes a joke of what we do because people are not being properly penalised for the hideous acts of animal cruelty."
Fleet was one of four koalas killed in Queensland last year.
Fines for animal cruelty acts range from $1000 to $100,000, with an estimated 150 people yet to pay up statewide.
The State Government is expected to push for penalties to be increased from a two-year jail sentence to seven, when parliament resumes this year.
However, Mr Beatty said a harsher crackdown would be needed to stop incidents like Fleet's death.
"This koala's death was yet another incident where no one came forward with information and it is the same old thing, animals can't talk and there is no way the low-lifes who committed the crime were coming forward," he said.
"You can't understand what possesses someone to do something like that, but if we can give them enough reasons not to do it, such as harsher fines, making them pay and jail time, then maybe they will stop."
Mr Beatty said the money owed to the organisation would fund more animal inspectors, vehicles and education.
"It is just so sad and unfortunate, and we are not talking about an isolated incident either. Animal cruelty happens all the time," he said.
"The extra manpower could help us crack down on the issue, but people have to pay up first and unfortunately we cannot force people to do so."
The Department of Environment and Resource Management was unavailable for comment yesterday.