• Christine Keate

Bill to increase sentences against animal cruelty receives Royal Assent

The long-awaited Bill to increase sentencing for the worst cases of animal cruelty offences from six months to five years, has received Royal Assent. One of Britain’s largest equine rescue and rehoming charities, World Horse Welfare, formed part of the coalition of leading animal welfare organisations that pushed UK Parliament to increase these penalties. The coalition consisting of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Blue Cross, Cats Protection, Compassion in World Farming, Dogs Trust, Humane Society International, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, UK Centre for Animal Law, and World Horse Welfare, was brought together by The League Against Cruel Sports and RSPCA in June 2019. Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare said: “This is a seismic day for animal welfare and I just want to express a huge thank you to all our supporters who campaigned to help make this happen – you really did make the difference. We are delighted that the Bill has finally become law – giving courts the opportunity to hand out much heftier sentences that are in line with other countries - and go some way towards acknowledging how heinous animal cruelty can be. “We recognise that most equine offences are for neglect and do not receive prison sentences and, while this Bill is a huge step in the right direction, there is still so much more to achieve. This will include pushing hard for accessible registers of equine offenders so that investigators in any part of Great Britain will be able to immediately confirm if a person has received a ban on keeping animals.

In a joint statement the coalition said: “Our coalition, representing the interests of millions of animal lovers across the UK, was determined to bring about this momentous change in law that will act as a deterrent. We finally have a punishment that fits the crime. It is a huge and long-awaited win for animals and the public alike.

“We heartily thank Chris Loder MP and Lord Randall of Uxbridge for their excellent work in getting this bill into law, as well as the Government and politicians on all sides of both Houses of Parliament who have signalled their commitment to animals in this bill.”

Andy Knott, chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Animals need us to speak up for them, and our close collaboration lent them a voice that was both compelling and deafening. We now have a meaningful deterrence to protect animals from wilful abuse or cruel sports such as dog-fighting.”


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