By Emma Butler
Today’s news that the Government has set out new legislation to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty tenfold – from the current six months to five years – is a welcome step forwards for those of us working in animal welfare.
The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill will mean that courts can take a tougher approach to cases such as dog fighting, abuse and gross neglect of animals. It’s something that animal welfare groups have been campaigning for for some time, and has had added support following Finn’s Law, which came into effect earlier this month and provides increased protection for service animals.
Some of the Forever Hounds Trust team met PC Dave Wardell and Finn last month at the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ACDH) Conference. Speaking about today’s news, PC Wardell 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.”
Forever Hounds Trust, along with other animal welfare organisations, see the result of cruelty and abuse to animals, and we do all we can to ensure perpetrators of such abuse are prosecuted. This tougher sentencing will give the courts the power they need to punish those responsible for the most serious crimes against animals. Claire Horton, Chief Executive of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home said: “The introduction of this bill is a landmark achievement, which will make a profound difference to dogs and cats in England and Wales. We, and many other rescue centres, see shocking cases of cruelty and neglect come through our gates and there are many more animals that are dumped and don’t even make it off the streets. Research shows that tougher prison sentences act as a deterrent to would-be criminals, so today’s announcement should prevent the suffering of many animals in the future.”
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 two months after it receives Royal Assent.
Please lend your voice to those calling for this law to be passed. You can do this by writing to your local MP and asking them to back the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill and make five year sentences for animal cruelty law. Let’s ensure that those responsible for cruelty to animals receive the appropriate punishment. To find out who your local MP is and how to write to them, visit: https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/