Justice will be served as tougher sentences are introduced for animal abusers | TeamDogs
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Justice will be served as tougher sentences are introduced for animal abusers

The maximum sentence will increase from six months to five years

Danielle Elton

Posted 5 months ago

It’s a day to celebrate here at TeamDogs. 

We’re thrilled to hear the news that tougher sentences have been introduced for animal abusers.

How anyone can bear to hurt a poor, defenceless animal is unthinkable but unfortunately, it does happen.

But justice will finally be served, with the maximum sentence being increased from six months to five years. Rightly so!

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill passed its final stage and has today received Royal Assent, passing it into law, although it’s not expected to come into force until later this year.

That can’t come quick enough if you ask us!

This change will come into effect in England and Wales, bringing it up to the maximum sentence in Scotland and Northern Ireland where abusers can already face five years imprisonment.

This bill was introduced to Parliament by MP Chris Loder in February 2020 and has received cross-party support.

Chris credits his dog, Poppy, as his inspiration.

He said: “As a fourth-generation farmer’s son and an advocate of high animal welfare, this new law is so important to me. 

“My dog, Poppy, a 4-year-old Springer Spaniel, was my inspiration for the Bill. She was cruelly abandoned at the roadside in West Dorset in January 2019 but is now the Loder family’s much-loved farm dog.”

He added: “I'm grateful for the support for my Bill from cross-party MPs, Defra, the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and other leading animal welfare organisations.

The Bill has been dubbed Finn’s Law Part 2 after a successful campaign spearheaded by Thin Blue Paw Foundation trustee Dave Wardell.

Police officer Dave Wardell and his retired police dog, Finn, launched the ‘Finn’s Law’ campaign - calling for better protection for service animals - after the 11-year-old German shepherd was stabbed in the line of duty. 

In October 2016, Finn was protecting Dave from a man wielding a knife when he was stabbed in the head and chest and almost died. The duo then launched the campaign and, in June 2019, The Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill was introduced so they turned their attention to Finn’s Law Part 2.

Dave said: “I’m overjoyed that Finn’s Law Part 2, or the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, has passed all of the stages and will be passed into law following Royal assent.  

“When this new bill comes into force later this year it’ll mean that our beloved animals will be better protected and courts will have greater powers to impose longer prison sentences for those who commit horrific cruelty and abuse. 

“I am so thrilled that Finn’s traumatic ordeal has paved the way for change and that his legacy will be making a difference in animals’ lives for decades to come.” 

The tougher sentencing for abusers has, of course, been welcomed by several animal charities, many of which were involved in the campaign.

Battersea’s Chief Executive, Peter Laurie, said: “At Battersea, our staff know all too well the horrific suffering abusers can inflict on innocent animals. 

“When we discovered England and Wales had the lowest maximum sentence for cruelty in Europe, we said enough is enough and launched our campaign. 

“Thanks to the unwavering support of everyone who stood with us to speak up for animals who have no voice of their own, we’ve changed the future for animals in this country and now the punishment for these horrendous acts of cruelty can finally fit the crime.

“Parliament has sent a clear message today – we will not tolerate animal abuse in this country.

“We can’t thank our supporters enough. Battersea is here for every dog and cat - not just those that come through our centres, but across the UK and beyond.”

RSPCA Chief Executive, Chris Sherwood, said: “This Act is a huge step forward for animal welfare in the UK and we're delighted that justice will now be served for animals. Tougher sentences will act as a stronger deterrent to potential animal abusers and will help us in our aim to cancel out animal cruelty once and for all.

He added: "This reform is long overdue - for many years, the most violent and horrific abuse and cruelty received a maximum penalty of just a few months. We're proud to have some of the best standards of animal welfare in the world but custodial sentences have long been letting us down.

"Every year our officers are faced with cases of the most unimaginable cruelty: animals beaten, stabbed, shot and burned; unwanted or elderly pets being drowned; wild animals shot with crossbows or set on fire; gangs forcing cockerels to fight to the death and breeders cutting off puppies' ears to make them look tough.

"Since the bill was introduced, animals have been starved, shot, stabbed, beaten to death and drowned. At least now, in those cases that leave us heartbroken, our courts will be able to hand out sentences that truly reflect the severity of the crimes."

Although we wish there were no cases of cruelty to animals, hopefully this change will act as a deterrent to any potential abusers.

No dog, or animals, deserve to be treated this way!

For MP Chris Loder, this is not the end of his campaign to end animal abuse.

He said: “The campaign for our animals continues. Banning live exports and non-stunned slaughter next.”

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