Tougher prison sentences for animal cruelty have been welcomed by Rachel.

After the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill received Royal Assent last Thursday (April 19th), the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty will be raised from six months to five years from 29 June 2021.

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.

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.

New legislation to protect service animals, known as ‘Finn’s Law’, came into force in June 2019 and prevents those who attack or injure service animals from claiming self-defence. The law is named after Finn, a police dog who was stabbed whilst pursuing a suspect with his handler PC David Wardell. Finn sustained serious stab wounds to the chest and head, but only criminal damage charges could be brought against his attacker.

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act, coupled with ‘Finn’s Law’, ensures that those who harm either service or any other animals are punished accordingly.

Rachel said:

“These tougher sentences send a clear signal that animal cruelty is unacceptable.

“As a dog owner myself, I’ll never understand how anyone could abuse animals, but anyone who does commit such a heinous crime will face a new maximum prison sentence of 5 years.

“I’m grateful to my colleague Chris Loder MP and all animal welfare groups for making this possible.”