The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill has been reintroduced to the House of Commons.
The bill means that animal abusers could face up to five years in prison, a significant increase from the current maximum sentence of six months. This will make it one of the toughest sanctions in Europe, strengthening the UK’s position as a global leader on animal welfare.
Animal Welfare Minister, Zac Goldsmith, said:
I am committed to improving animal welfare in this country and the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, which will increase the maximum sentencing to five years in prison, sends a clear message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated.
This step builds on a series of actions this government has taken to protect animals, including a ban on third party puppy and kitten sales, banning the use of wild animals in circuses, and addressing the cruel practice of transporting live animals on unnecessarily long journeys, and the keeping of primates as pets.
The bill follows a public consultation last year, in which more than 70% of people supported the proposals for tougher prison sentences. It means the courts will be able to take a tougher approach to cases such as dog fighting, abuse of puppies and kittens, or gross neglect of farm animals.
With regard to animal sentience, the government announced in the summer of 2018 that in line with the advice from the House of Commons EFRA Select Committee we would split the issues of sentencing and sentience. We are considering the right legislative vehicle for sentience and details will follow in due course.