Animal abusers face up to five years in prison in government cruelty crackdown

Posted On: 
26th June 2019

Britain’s worst animal abusers face spending up to five years in prison after Michael Gove announced plans for tougher sentences.

The CEO of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home branded the bill a 'landmark achievement'
Credit: 
PA Images

The new proposals would see the maximum time spent behind bars for animal cruelty increase from just six months in England and Wales.

The bill, which will be presented to MPs by the Environment Secretary on Wednesday, comes after 70% of the UK public backed harsher sentences in a consultation.

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Judges have also complained that they would have handed down longer terms for crimes such as training dogs to torture other animals, or pitting them against each other in cages if they were able to.

The Government says the new rule will mark one of the toughest sanctions in Europe.

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.”

The announcement comes after ministers unveiled similar new rules to protect police dogs and horses earlier this month in "Finn's Law".

The legislation was brought in after a German shepherd named Finn was stabbed in the head and chest in 2016 while trying to catch a man suspected of robbing a taxi driver at gunpoint.

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.”

Claire Horton, Chief Executive of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, said of the latest announcement: “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.”