STIFFER SENTENCES than those contained in the Animal Welfare Bill are being urged by the Pet Care Trust, the national charity that promotes responsible pet ownership, for people found guilty of animal cruelty.
As it stands, the Bill sets out a maximum prison sentence of 51 weeks and/or a fine of up to £20,000 – an increase on the current maximum sentence. However, the reality is that convicted offenders are likely to serve no more than 25 weeks of even the longest sentence.
"These penalties do not seem right for serious and deliberate acts causing pain and suffering to animals. We want to ensure stiffer sentences are introduced for the worst crimes against animals to deter and punish those responsible" Janet Nunn, Chief Executive of the Trust commented. "What signal does it send when breaching an ASBO is indictable, but killing an animal is not?"
The Bill also states that offences have to be brought to court within three years. This would mean that serious cases of animal cruelty could slip through the net and prosecutors never punished. By making the worst cases indictable, the time limit would be removed for their prosecution.
Janet Nunn added: "Once that anomaly is addressed, the general duty of care breaches such as neglect, can be better addressed within 12 months as opposed to the three years suggested by the Bill. This would reduce the burden of record keeping on pet owners and businesses"
• To view the Pet Care Trust’s detailed response to the Animal Welfare Bill, visit the policy section their website at www.petcare.org.uk