People in England who commit the most serious crimes of animal cruelty could face up to 5 years in prison, the government has said.
The move – an increase on the current six-month maximum sentence – follows many cases where English courts wanted to hand down tougher sentences.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said which would certainly target “those who commit the most shocking cruelty towards animals”.
The RSPCA said which would certainly “deter people by abusing in addition to neglecting animals”.
Under the government’s plans, courts will retain the ability to hand out an unlimited fine in addition to ban an offender by owning animals within the future.
However, they would certainly right now also hold the ability to sentence the worst cases more harshly.
The brand new legislation will also enable courts to deal more effectively with ruthless gangs involved in organised dog fights, the Department for Environment, Food in addition to Rural Affairs said.
The plans will only apply in England, as animal cruelty powers are devolved to the nations of the UK.
The maximum sentence for offenders in Wales can be six months in prison, while the maximum sentence in Scotland can be 12 months.
The move will bring maximum sentences for animal cruelty in England into line with Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic, Australia, in addition to Canada.
which comes as judges in addition to magistrates in some English courts have complained they wanted to hand down tougher sentences to those guilty of abusing animals.
“These plans will give courts the tools they have requested to deal with the most abhorrent acts,” Mr Gove said.
“We are a nation of animal lovers in addition to so we must ensure which those who commit the most shocking cruelty towards animals face suitably tough punishments.”
David Bowles, head of public affairs at the RSPCA, welcomed the move.
‘Massive step forward’
He said: “The strength of feeling behind a move to toughen up these sentences can be huge.
“At the moment the courts are limited by the law under which the strongest sentence for animal cruelty can be six months’ imprisonment in addition to an unlimited fine – although which rarely happens.”
The Department for Environment, Farming in addition to Rural Affairs (Defra) said about 1,150 people per year are convicted for animal cruelty – although fewer than 5 receive the current maximum sentence.
Claire Horton, chief executive of Battersea Dogs in addition to Cats Home, added the change will be “very positively received by the public”.
Philippa King, by the League Against Cruel Sports, said which was “excellent news” which the government had “listened to the people who are dealing with which on the front line”.
“There are people in which country who find which either enjoyable or profitable to force dogs to attack each additional, in addition to the law at the moment can be a pitiful deterrent,” she said.
“If these proposals lead to 5-year jail sentences for those involved in dog fighting, which will be a massive step forward.”
The government can be likely to publish draft legislation for consultation at the end of the year.