The Government has acknowledged that the current punishments for the most shocking animal cruelty offences are inadequate and now require “the full force of the law”.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP, stated in the House of Commons on Thursday and reiterated in a speech on Friday that the current penalties for such offences are not strong enough.
Admitting this is an issue he feels strongly about, Michael Gove said: “I am not someone who will automatically reach for stronger criminal sanctions as the only route to dealing with a particular problem, but there are particular cases of animal cruelty where we may well need to revisit the existing criminal sanctions in order to ensure that the very worst behaviour is dealt with, with the full force of the law.”
The charity has gathered incredible support for highlighting the issue, including from some of the UK’s best-loved comedians such as Paul O’Grady, Ricky Gervais and Sue Perkins, who agree such acts of cruelty are #NotFunny. More than 50,000 people have so far contacted their MP to call for stronger sentences and 79 MPs have already done so.
Commenting on the Secretary of State’s speech today, Battersea’s chief executive, Claire Horton, said: “Battersea welcome’s the Government’s apparent change of heart on this vital welfare issue and it’s very encouraging to see Mr Gove acknowledge that some of the sickening animal cruelty cases that pass through our courts are not being properly punished, offering no deterrent for serious offenders. Battersea wants the maximum sentence to be increased to five years.
“It’s heart warming to note that the Secretary of State feels strongly about such cruelty to animals and we have invited Mr Gove to visit Battersea to see first-hand some of the animals in our care who are the innocent victims of such abuse and cruelty.”
Earlier this year, Battersea rescued an emaciated dog named Stewart, who we believe had been kept indoors and deliberately starved. He was in such an awful state, he shocked Battersea’s most experienced staff, as he required months of care and a painstaking feeding regime to turn his life around and bring him back to a healthy weight.
Claire Horton added: “Thanks to the hourly care Stewart received at Battersea, he found a loving new home – but many animals are not fortunate enough to receive this second chance in life. The people that did this to Stewart didn’t even go to prison and six months as a maximum penalty for deliberate cruelty is a joke and this must change.”
For more information on Battersea’s campaign for tougher penalties or to contact your MP to ask them to support five-year sentences for animal cruelty, visit www.battersea.org.uk/NotFunny