Battersea Dogs & Cats Home warmly welcomes today\u2019s news that the Scottish Government is seeking to toughen up on punishments for animal abusers \u2013 just weeks after the charity launched its Scottish campaign for five-year sentences.\r\n\r\nAs part of its plans for this next Parliamentary year, the Scottish Government today delighted\u00a0Scotland\u2019s animal welfare supporters by announcing it is introducing a Bill to increase the maximum prison sentence for serious abuse cases to five years.\r\n\r\nLast month, Battersea published research revealing the current 12-month sentence in Scotland is amongst the lowest across the whole of Europe, with only five other areas - including England and Wales - having lower sentences for animal cruelty.\r\n\r\nBattersea's Chief Executive, Claire Horton, said:\u00a0"Battersea is thrilled by this news from the Scottish Government, as a five-year deterrent in Scotland could go a long way to help many animals that are the innocent victims of unacceptable cruelty.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhen we launched our campaign in Scotland last month, there was a momentum building amongst Scots in favour of tougher sentences and today\u2019s news proves the Government is listening. They recognise 12 months is simply not enough for some of the horrific cases of animal cruelty that come through the Courts, nor does it deter other would-be animal abusers.\r\n\r\nClaire Horton continued: "There\u2019s still a way to go before the Scottish Government\u2019s bold announcement today becomes law, as it needs support from the other Holyrood parties.\r\n\r\n\u201cA five-year sentence means courts have the power to appropriately punish the most shocking offences of animal cruelty. Battersea is urging animal lovers to respond to this call for action and contact their MSPs, to make it abundantly clear to all politicians that the Scottish public want to see five-year sentences become a reality. We commend the Scottish Government for their announcement today and\u00a0Battersea is willing to help in any way we can\u00a0to make this change happen.\u201d\r\n\r\nClaire Horton added that the Scottish Government\u2019s announcement could have important implications for England and Wales, where the maximum sentence for animal cruelty is just six months.\r\n\r\nShe added: \u201cBattersea is calling for tougher cruelty sentences north and south of the border. So, with Scotland now wanting to bring in five-year sentences, I sincerely hope this will make England and Wales now move to follow suit.\u201d\r\n\r\nFor more information or to email your MSP to urge them to bring the Scottish Government's plans to fruition, visit\u00a0www.battersea.org.uk\/NotFunny.