Dog Magazine

Calls Grow for Tougher Sentences for Animal Cruelty

Six month prison sentence “just not tough enough” as RSPCA highlights shocking animal cruelty cases.

As figures show convictions for animal cruelty running at four per day, the RSPCA is calling for the new government to introduce tougher sentencing for animal welfare offences.

The animal welfare charity witnesses horrendous acts of cruelty across England and Wales through its prosecutions work every day – from a dog with multiple broken bones left untreated and dumped in a cemetery to die, to a dog’s face being ripped open by another animal but given no veterinary care.

The strongest sentence that can currently be handed down to a someone convicted under the Animal Welfare Act is six months in jail – but polling by the RSPCA has shown seven out of 10 people would like to see this sentence toughened up and longer jail terms imposed on offenders.

RSPCA interim chief executive Michael Ward said: “At the moment the strongest sentence for animal cruelty that can be passed down by magistrates is just six months imprisonment and an unlimited fine – that’s simply not tough enough.

“The RSPCA picks up the pieces of animal cruelty every day of the year – and it is through our prosecutions that many of the perpetrators are brought to justice.

“There’s a huge strength of feeling behind a move to toughen up these sentences – but at the moment the courts are limited by the law. As the Animal Welfare Act stands, the courts can only hand out a maximum 6 months prison sentence and that is not enough of a deterrent.

“We were disappointed the previous Government chose to ignore the Select Committee recommendation to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences to five years imprisonment. This move would have brought our sentences in line with Northern Ireland.

“Our recent poll showed that seven out of 10 people want the Government to bring in longer jail time for the most serious cases of animal cruelty and neglect.

“As an animal lover, if you think that a six month jail sentence is not long enough for horrible acts of animal cruelty, we are urging you to contact the Secretary of State for Justice David Lidington MP to ask him to increase sentencing so the punishment fits the crime.”

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