Maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty raised from six months to five years

- England -

Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, completed its final stage in the Houses of Parliament on April 28, 2021, received Royal Assent on April 29, 2021, and will allow tougher penalties for animal cruelty.

This means that the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty will be raised from six months to five years from June 29, 2021.

The Private Members Bill was introduced by Chris Loder MP in February 2020, and with the full support of the Government has now passed into law.

Gov.UK reports that: “The new maximum penalty will enable courts to take a firmer approach to cases such as dog fighting, abuse of puppies and kittens, illegally cropping a dog’s ears and gross neglect of farm animals. As well as a prison sentence, offenders can also receive an unlimited fine.”

As stated in the release, “The more stringent sentences will be some of the toughest in Europe. The Act will help ensure courts are able to enforce extended penalties for those who cruelly mistreat any animal, sending a clear message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated.”

It is a disgrace however that we have had to wait until 2021 to have this law, effectively sending a message that animal cruelty WAS tolerated prior to this.

People are angry and tired of reading every day that innocent animals get tortured, neglected, and killed!!!

Lawmakers, politicians, and judges need to get their hands dirty and join in when animal rescue organizations respond to rescue situations and see firsthand what happens and what the consequences are!!!

According to the release, “A public consultation in 2017 received over 9,000 responses and showed strong public support for proposals on tougher sentences. The measure is also widely supported by animal welfare groups including the RSPCA and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.”

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act, coupled with “Finn’s Law” which came into force on June 8, 2019, protects service animals such as police dogs and horses and prevents those who attack or injure service animals from claiming self-defense.

The law is named after Finn (pictured below), a K-9 who was stabbed whilst pursuing a suspect with his handler PC David Wardell.

Officer Finn sustained serious stab wounds to the chest and head, but only criminal damage charges could be brought against his attacker.

In regard to the new law, Chris Sherwood, RSPCA Chief Executive, said: “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.”

While I praise and welcome the new law, I am afraid that not every animal abuser will be sentenced to five years because despicable judges are everywhere and we will hear about judges who will still hand down ridiculous sentences.

I will be ready for them too!

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