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04th Aug 2022

Man handed record 25-year jail term in the US after beating his dog with piece of wood

Kieran Galpin

In the UK, the maximum sentence is five years

A man who was caught on video beating his dog has been jailed for  25 years in what is the state of Texas’ longest sentence relating to animal cruelty.

Frank Javier Fonesca was videoed “punching and kicking” his Rottweiler Buddy outside his home in February 2019, but wasn’t arrested until Septemeber 2021.

An anonymous “good samaritan” recorded the violent act, which was used to obtain a harsher sentence in court, according to a report by the San Antonio Express-News.

Investigators from Animal Care Services said Fonesca was “disciplining” Buddy for getting out of his garden, which entailed hitting the dog with a piece of wood while choking and kicking it.

While no one is questioning the severity of the case, many will undoubtedly wonder why a 25-year sentence was issued for animal cruelty. Fonesca’s prior convictions, including possession of drugs and retaliation, enabled the City of San Antonio to put him behind bars for longer.

Buddy has since recovered from his injuries and is now living happily with a new adoptive family.

In Ireland, the maximum sentence for animal cruelty is up to five years in prison, a fine of up to €250,000 or both under the Animal Health and Welfare Act, 2013.

In the UK, the maximum sentence for animal cruelty was changed from six months to five years in June 2021. The change was spurred after a public consultation in 2017 received over 9,000 responses and showed strong public support for proposals on tougher sentences.

Leading animal welfare charity Battersea was on the front lines of the law change, having launched their campaign after learning that “England and Wales had the lowest maximum sentence for cruelty in Europe.”

Following the change, Battersea’s Chief Executive, Peter Laurie, said: “We can’t thank our supporters enough. Battersea is here for every dog and cat – not just those that come through our centres, but across the UK and beyond.”