Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced a new bill to enable tougher prison sentences for the worst animal abusers which will be introduced to Parliament today (Wednesday 26 June).
The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill means that animal abusers could face up to five years in prison, a significant increase from the current maximum sentence of six months.
This will make it one of the toughest sanctions in Europe, strengthening the UK’s position as a global leader on animal welfare.
The Bill follows a public consultation last year, in which more than 70% of people supported the proposals for tougher prison sentences. It 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.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:
There is no place in this country for animal cruelty. That is why I want to make sure that those who abuse animals are met with the full force of the law. Our new Bill sends a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated, with the maximum five-year sentence one of the toughest punishments in Europe.
I am committed to making our country the best place in the world for the care and protection of animals.
The RSPCA received 1,175,193 calls to their 24-hour cruelty hotline in 2018 with a call every 27 seconds.
There have also been a number of cases in the last few years in which the courts said they would have handed down longer sentences had they been available.
Recent examples include a case when a man trained dogs to ruthlessly torture other animals, including trapping a fox and a terrier dog in a cage to brutally attack each other.