|Cruelty sentence raised to five years
The government has announced that it is going to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences to five years.
Last week OUR DOGS reported that all the major animal cruelty charities were meeting Lord Randall, the Prime minister’s environment advisor.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill last Wednesday which will mean that the maximum sentence for animal cruelty will increase from six months to five years.
Pressure has been applied by all the major animal welfare charities and an #increaseto5 campaign on social media has been targeted at the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) calling for this change in the law.
Back in 2016 Anna Turley, Labour MP for Redcar, introduced a Private Members Mill to increase the maximum sentence but it fell because of the snap election called by Theresa May.
Ms Turley tweeted, ‘Really pleased #BabysLaw for tougher animal cruelty sentences will finally, after more than two years, be presented to Parliament today. People who abuse animals have got away with a slap on the wrist for far too long. I’m looking forward to voting this through and changing the law!’
In 2017 the government announced that it planned to increase the maximum sentence to five years. It said it was going to publish draft legislation in 2018 but this did not transpire which is why pressure was applied to Defra to make it happen.
The UK will now have the toughest sanctions in Europe and a public consultation showed that 70 percent of people support tougher sentences for animal abusers.
A tougher approach is planned, in particular, for cases of dog fighting and the abuse of puppies. It is hoped that stronger sentences will deter people from causing harm to dogs.
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.’
This new law follows the introduction of Finn’s Law, which will protect service dogs, and Lucy’s Law which bans the third party sales of puppies.
PC David Wardell, Finn’s handler said, ‘I’ve always been hugely supportive of animal welfare. Hence my campaign for #Finnslaw after our incident. I was also keen to support the government’s call for increased sentencing for all animal welfare cases so that we can send out the important message that our animals matter.
‘To hear the announcement today that the government is set to increase maximum sentences, #FinnsLawPart2, tenfold is fantastic news and will of course ensure that all animals, including our amazing service animals, will have the best protections available in law.
‘I thank the public for their amazing support with this second and vital part of our #Finnslaw campaigns. It has been refreshing to see people get involved, politely, in politics and bring real and positive change.’
Marc Abraham, who campaigned for Lucy’s Law, tweeted, ‘‘Gove delivers new bill to punish animal abusers’ Great news! More animal welfare progress made thanks to @michaelgove & his game-changing @DefraGovUK team. Well done everyone involved in making this happen.’
Animal Welfare Minister, David Rutley, said, ‘These increased maximum sentences will act as a serious deterrent against cruelty and neglect in the future. This step builds on recent positive action we have taken to protect animals, including plans to ban third party puppy and kitten sales and banning the use of wild animals in circuses.’
The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill will be introduced into the House of Commons, before moving through to the House of Lords. If passed, it will come into effect in two months after it receives Royal Assent.