Comment on new Defra draft Bill on animal sentience and cruelty sentencing

By Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director

We welcome this draft Bill for recognising that animals are sentient beings whose welfare should be protected, now and post Brexit, and that cruelty against them should receive appropriate punishment. We also ask that the government ensures 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. With Magistrates Courts only able to issue sentences of up to 6 months, the more serious cases will be heard at Crown Court, which may increase timelines and therefore the time an animal is held. There is potentially a huge detrimental effect on the wellbeing of dogs in particular, kennelled for extended periods.