It is my view that there is no place in this country for animal cruelty and it is imperative that we ensure that those who abuse animals are met with the full force of the law. I am therefore pleased that the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill was published in Parliament by Chris Loder MP and that the proposed legislation will be backed by the Government. It is currently at the stage of Second Reading in the House of Commons.
The Bill enables tougher prison sentences for the most serious perpetrators of animal cruelty, from the current maximum of six months to up to five years.
I believe that the increase in sentencing will be a deterrent and send a clear message that appalling behaviour towards animals is not tolerated. A maximum five-year sentence will also be one of the toughest punishments in Europe, strengthening the UK’s position as a global leader on animal welfare.
I am aware that a public consultation found 70 per cent of people supported the proposals for tougher prison sentences. I am encouraged that the planned change in law means the courts will be able to take a tougher approach to cases such as dog fighting, abuse of puppies and kittens, or gross neglect of farm animals.
These increased maximum sentences will act as a serious deterrent against cruelty and gross neglect in the future, and builds on recent positive action to protect animals, including plans to ban third party puppy and kitten sales and banning the use of wild animals in circuses.