CRUEL owners who torture their pets will be locked up for up to five years under a tough new law announced on Wednesday.
Dog fight organisers, farmers who neglect horses and sick thugs who abuse puppies or kittens will all be hit by the lengthy jail sentence.
The new punishment for animal cruelty is a huge increase on the current maximum term of six months, and comes after complaints that abusers have got away with soft sentences in some horrific cases.
It marks a stunning victory for campaigners led by Ricky Gervais who have been calling for better protection for innocent animals suffering at the hands of torturers and killers.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said today the bill being introduced to the House of Commons today will reinforce Britain’s status as a nation of animal lovers.
He said: “There is no place in this country for animal cruelty. That is why I want to make sure that those who abuse animals are met with the full force of the law.
“Our new Bill sends a clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated, with the maximum five-year sentence one of the toughest punishments in Europe.
“I am committed to making our country the best place in the world for the care and protection of animals.”
Charities hope the new law will encourage judges to lock up more animal abusers, as currently most escape jail and some get away with just a fine.
There was outrage earlier this month when huntsman Paul Oliver was handed a suspended jail term despite feeding live fox cubs to his hounds – and not even barred from keeping animals.
And last month 19-year-old Nicole Jones who allowed two of her dogs to starve to death in her squalid home was given a suspended jail term.
Criminals fleeing from the law who attack police dogs will also face five years behind bars, in a major strengthening of the recent Finn’s Law, named after a brave German Shepherd who was stabbed while catching an armed robber.
The tougher punishment for animal cruelty also comes after puppy farms were outlawed, and a ban on wild animals in travelling circuses.
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Claire Horton, Chief Executive of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, said: “The introduction of this bill is a landmark achievement, which will make a profound difference to dogs and cats in England and Wales.
“We, and many other rescue centres, see shocking cases of cruelty and neglect come through our gates and there are many more animals that are dumped and don’t even make it off the streets.
“Research shows that tougher prison sentences act as a deterrent to would-be criminals, so today’s announcement should prevent the suffering of many animals in the future.”
This female staffie was put to sleep after acid was poured over her body in a horrific attack in Northern Ireland[/caption]
Labrador puppy Shadow was beaten to death with a slipper for pooing indoors in Oxford[/caption]
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