Animal abusers can now face five years in jail – after Derbyshire residents’ calls
Criminals who abuse animals can now face a maximum sentence of five years in prison after landmark legislation came into force.
The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 kicked in on Tuesday after completing its final Government stage and passing into law.
The legislation increases the maximum sentencing under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 from six months to five years for cruelty and fighting offences.
After years of campaigning, the RSPCA is celebrating this ‘milestone’.
Following recent court cases in Derbyshire, a number of our readers have called for tougher punishments for those found guilty of animal cruelty.
In April, an Ilkeston man who beat his dog to death and broke his cat’s pelvis was jailed – for 19 weeks.
RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “This is a landmark day for animals and animal welfare in England and Wales.
“For almost 200 years the RSPCA has been investigating animal cruelty and rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals.
“While we’ve seen vast changes in the way we keep animals during that time, as well as huge advances in legislation to better protect animal welfare, our sentences for animal abusers have long been letting our animals down.
“We’re absolutely thrilled that we’ve now reached this milestone moment and that courts will now have more flexibility to hand out sentences that better reflect the severity of the crimes they are dealing with, and we hope the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 will act as a greater deterrent and help us cancel out cruelty once and for all.”
Mr Sherwood added: “The reform is long overdue.
“For years, those responsible for the most horrific, violent and unimaginable cruelty to animals have been punished with just a few short months in prison, less than they might get for fly tipping.
“In recent weeks our officers have been called out to investigate shocking cases – for example, dogs who have been beaten to death and dumped on the side of the road like rubbish, horses left with hooves so overgrown they can’t walk, and pets who have starved to death in filthy conditions.”