Dogs Trust welcomes Government announcement on animal cruelty sentencing

Dogs Trust’s Veterinary Director Paula Boyden today (26 June) welcomed the Government bringing forward legislation which will significantly increase sentences for animal cruelty offences. 

The tabling of the long-awaited legislation followed a crucial meeting at 10 Downing Street on Monday, when ten leading welfare organisations came together to demand an end to inadequate sentences following repeated Government promises on the matter.

Once it has become law, those convicted of animal cruelty offences will face a maximum jail term of five years, rather than the paltry six months in place at the moment. 

Dogs Trust Veterinary Director Paula Boyden said: 

“We whole-heartedly welcome this measure being brought forward, as we continue our fight to tackle animal cruelty – an increase from the six-month maximum sentence is long overdue and much-needed to deter offenders. 

“We also hope the Government will guarantee the welfare of the animals involved in cruelty cases while trial proceedings take place is considered. There is potentially a hugely detrimental effect on the wellbeing of dogs held in kennels for extended periods during long-running cases.” 

The charity representatives, which included Dogs Trust’s Paula Boyden, were joined at 10 Downing Street by Jet, a Lakeland Terrier shot in the head four times and left for dead by the ex-boyfriend of his previous owner. 

Further information: 

  • Dogs Trust has called on the Government to ensure that the welfare of the animals involved is preserved whilst trial proceedings take place. It is often already many months until a case is resolved, with companion animals held in kennels until that time.
  • Magistrates’ courts are only able to issue sentences of up to six months, with the more serious cases heard at a Crown court. This may increase the time an animal is held and could have a severe negative impact on a dog’s wellbeing, especially if that dog has already suffered a traumatic experience.
  • We would like to see the time animals spend in kennels expediated through the introduction of a process allowing for their rehoming. Such a system is currently being explored by the Scottish Government.
  • The other charities who attended Monday’s meeting at 10 Downing Street alongside Dogs Trust include Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, Cats Protection, Compassion in World Farming, Humane Society International UK, International Fund for Animal Welfare, League Against Cruel Sports, RSPCA, UK Centre for Animal Law and World Horse Welfare.