PETA calls for West Ham to drop Kurt Zouma

Elisa Allen

PETA UK director Elisa Allen. - Credit: PETA

An animal rights charity has called for Kurt Zouma to be "removed" from the West Ham team after a video appeared to show the player kicking a cat.

Director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Elisa Allen, told the Recorder she was pleased his pet cats have since been confiscated by the RSPCA.

She said: "PETA was relieved to hear that the cats were removed from Kurt Zouma’s possession, and we hope he faces prosecution...In the meantime, West Ham United must also remove him from the team – sending a strong message."

Essex Police said the force had been made aware an incident "may have taken place" within the county and is liaising with the RSPCA. 

Mr Zouma has since issued an apology: “There are no excuses for my behaviour, which I sincerely regret.

“I also want to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who was upset by the video. I would like to assure everyone that our two cats are perfectly fine and healthy.

“They are loved and cherished by our entire family, and this behaviour was an isolated incident that will not happen again.”

West Ham said both Mr Zouma and the club are "co-operating fully" with the RSPCA.

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"Kurt is extremely remorseful and, like everyone at the club, fully understands the depth of feeling surrounding the incident", a spokesperson said.

Mr Zouma has been fined the "maximum amount possible" by the club, they said, which will be donated to animal welfare charities. 

PETA exists to stop animals from suffering and its motto is: “Animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way."

This comes as Romford MP Andrew Rosindell’s Animal (Penalty Notices) Bill took another step closer to becoming law and could see those found guilty of animal health and welfare offences facing fines of up to £5,000.

Last year the maximum sentence for animal cruelty was raised from six months to five years.  

Elisa said: “PETA welcomes any legislation that could act as a strong deterrent to potential offenders and sends the message that cruelty to animals is a serious matter."

She said the former six-month sentence was “pitiful”.  

“It’s vital that all cruelty is reported to the authorities, but it would be so much better if we could prevent animals from being abused and neglected in the first place.” 

Through its work, PETA aims to encourage veganism, which Elisa believes is the “only compassionate lifestyle”.  

"Eating animals is cruel and unethical," she said, adding: “What is done to animals on farms and slaughterhouses, is, without a doubt, horrendous."

PETA’s activists often partake in “colourful actions” so they can be seen in the “hustle and bustle” of today’s world, Elisa said. 

“Many people simply do not want to believe the extent of the abuse animals are subjected to in our society and around the world – but it’s our job to show them the reality so that we can inspire change."   

RSPCA investigate Kurt Zouma video 

Earlier this month, footage of West Ham defender Kurt Zouma sparked outrage across the internet and saw his two cats being taken into the care of the RSPCA.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “Two cats are in our care, have been seen by a vet and are being well looked after.  

“We understand the high level of interest in this incident and can reassure you that our experienced officers are carrying out a full and thorough investigation.” 

The cats will remain in the care of the RSPCA while the investigation continues and so are not available for rehoming.

Updates on the investigation will be released when possible.  

Cancel Out Cruelty: London named as an ‘animal cruelty hotspot’ 

Figures released by the RSPCA last summer pinpoint London as the area with the highest number of animal cruelty reports out of 10 hotspots in England and Wales.  

According to the figures, over the last five years, the charity received 8,565 reports of intentional cruelty to animals in Greater London.

Nearly 1,000 of these reports were made in 2020.  

Its Cancel Out Cruelty campaign aims to raise funds to support the charity’s rescue teams on the frontline and awareness about how people can participate to stamp out cruelty for good.  

Donations can be made at www.rspca.org.uk/stopcruelty. 

People in Rainham have their say 

Brown Brima

Brown Brima, 44, believes people should look after their pets as they would their own children. - Credit: Chantelle Billson

Owner of Super Trims Global on Upminster Road, Brown Brima, 44, said: “As long as the law is implemented, it is good because it will mean people need to take caution if they own pets. 

"People should look after their pets the way they look after their own babies.  

“It can be so brutal when people are cruel to animals and sometimes people don’t show remorse for what they have done or are doing.”  

Brown believes the five-year sentence should depend on the severity of the crime and should be able to be extended if needed, but it does act as a good “deterrent to ensure people don’t mishandle pets”.  

He added: “Our pets are living and coexisting with us and we need to make sure we’re taking care of them properly.  

“Dogs, for instance, are conscious of everything they do - they see, smell and feel everything just like we do.” 

He said the passing of the tougher 2021 Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill for animal abusers is a “good thing because of the world we live in now”.  

William

William Litchfield, 52, thinks the five-year maximum sentence for animal abuse is too short. - Credit: Chantelle Billson

William Litchfield, 52, from J&J Computer Services, said the computer shop team adopted its own cats.

He said from the experience of his own cats, who are “very skittish”, the behaviour of animals can depend on how they have been treated.  

Speaking of the maximum five-year sentence for animal cruelty, William believes it isn’t enough.  

“People are killing pets and I think the sentence should be a lot longer.  

“It isn’t just an animal; people get attached to their pets and they become family.  

“They’re helpless and I think there should be a heavier punishment.”  

William said it is important to remember animals "trust us to look after them, not mistreat them”.  

Sanjay

Sanjay Patel, 51, would like to see all animals treated with respect. - Credit: Chantelle Billson

Sanjay Patel, from Kaliash News in Rainham, said he was "very sad" to see the footage of footballer Kurt Zouma.

He said: "It is very cruel to hurt an animal and it doesn't matter what type of animal it is, whether it’s a dog or cat, all animals deserve respect."

The 51-year-old added: "I see people drive over foxes on the road and it’s sad.

"You can’t just kill innocent animals."

Sanjay doesn't have any pets of his own but said he likes cats and dogs and “a long time ago” he owned a guard dog, who he trained from a puppy.  

Speaking of the five-year maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty, Sanjay added: “I think it’s good because otherwise [with a shorter sentence], people aren’t as bothered so much about committing the crime."