Animal welfare charity has welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to introduce five-year maximum sentences for animal cruelty as its new legislation took one step closer to becoming law.
The Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill, introduced in October last year, passed stage two of the legislative process yesterday. If it becomes law, the Bill would see maximum sentences for the worst animal cruelty offences increased from the current 12 months to five years imprisonment in Scotland.
Battersea has campaigned for stronger sentences for animal abusers in Scotland since August 2017. At 12 months, the current maximum sentence for animal cruelty is amongst the lowest across the whole of Europe – with only five other countries having lower sentences (including England and Wales).
Battersea’s deputy chief executive, Peter Laurie, said: “We are encouraged to see this Bill making real progress in Holyrood. The Scottish Government is sending out a clear message that Scotland is no longer prepared to tolerate the most shocking cases of animal cruelty and will respond accordingly.
“This Bill will protect innocent animals and act as a proper deterrent to those who would abuse and mistreat them.”
The Bill will now proceed to a third and final stage, where it will be voted on and approved, and is expected to become law towards the end of the year.
Battersea has also been calling on the Government in England and Wales to progress this much-needed legislation. The Bill has already gone through the Parliamentary process once before, however, the Bill fell during the prorogation of Parliament in October, and a second time when a general election was called in December.