We welcome the move to toughen up animal cruelty sentences
We're delighted at the UK Government’s announcement that those who carry out shocking abuse or neglect of animals will now face up to five years in jail.
This year, thousands of our supporters have sent emails to the UK Government calling on them to introduce tougher sentences. We'd like to thank them for making their voices heard and helping achieve this progress for animals.
As the largest prosecutor of animal welfare offences in England and Wales, so far this year we've witnessed appalling cruelty and neglect, from dogs being beaten, kicked, stabbed, and punched, a hamster being fed drugs, horses being starved and mistreated and bull terriers being neglected for months and left for dead.
The strongest sentence that can currently be handed down to a defendant under the Animal Welfare Act is six months in jail - but polling by us has shown seven out of 10 people would like to see this sentence toughened up and longer jail terms imposed on offenders.
We pick up the pieces of animal cruelty every day
Our head of public affairs, David Bowles, said:
We're thrilled that the Government has responded to calls from the RSPCA and members of the public to toughen up sentences for the worst animal abusers. We now feel that those who commit these acts will soon be receiving sentences that reflect the seriousness of their crime and hope this will act as a real deterrent against cruelty and neglect.
The RSPCA picks up the pieces of animal cruelty every day of the year. Our inspectors regularly rescue animals from horrific circumstances of mistreatment, brutality and neglect. It is only through the prosecutions that we take that many of the perpetrators are brought to justice.
The strength of feeling behind a move to toughen up these sentences is huge - but at the moment the courts are limited by the law under which the strongest sentence for animal cruelty is six months’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine - but this rarely happens.
Michael Gove’s promise to bring sentences in line with Northern Ireland - which has a maximum of five years imprisonment - should help to deter people from abusing and neglecting animals and will finally mean that the sentence fits the crime.
Your action helped enormously in this campaign, but there are still other animal welfare issues on which we need your support. Join our campaign network to stay up to date and find our how you can make your voice heard.