The maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty will be increased from six months to five years, it has been announced.
The move comes after campaigners called on the Government to take a tougher stance on those who cruelly abuse animals.
According to reports, the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill – which received Royal Assent in April – will increase prison sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years from 29 June 2021.
The new laws will also introduce “unlimited fines”.
It means the maximum custodial sentence for animal cruelty in England and Wales will rise from being the lowest in Europe to among the highest in the world.
The Government said the new legislation will empower courts to take a “firmer approach” to offences such as dog fighting, abuse of puppies and kittens, illegally cropping a dog’s ears and gross neglect of farm animals.
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, which launched the campaign, has been calling for stronger sentences since 2017.
Welcoming the legislation, Battersea’s Chief Executive, Peter Laurie, said: “Thanks to the unwavering support of everyone who stood with us as we launched our campaign, including well over 100 MPs, to speak up for animals who have no voice of their own, we’ve changed the future for animals in this country and now the punishment for these horrendous acts of cruelty can finally fit the crime.”
Chris Sherwood, RSPCA Chief Executive, added: “This law is a huge step forward for animal welfare in the UK and we’re delighted that justice will now be served for animals.
“Tougher sentences will act as a stronger deterrent to potential animal abusers and will help us in our aim to stamp out animal cruelty once and for all.”
The latest statistics suggest that fewer than one in 10 (eight per cent) people convicted of animal cruelty are handed a jail sentence, with 44 per cent of those resulting in a custodial sentence of one month or less in length.
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