THIS week, Wycombe MP Steve Baker writes exclusively to Bucks Free Press readers - and launches a competition to find Wycombe's cutest pet:

Last week the Environment Secretary announced a new bill to give tougher prison sentences for the worst animal abusers.

It means courts will be able to take a tougher approach to cases such as dog fighting, abuse of puppies and kittens, or gross neglect of farm animals.

People guilty of this crime could now face up to five years in prison, rather than the current maximum sentence of six months.

The UK will then have some of the toughest sanctions in Europe, strengthening the country’s position as a global leader on animal welfare.

It is frightening to know the RSPCA received 1,175,193 calls to their 24-hour cruelty hotline in 2018 with a call every 27 seconds.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and other rescue centres see shocking cases of cruelty and neglect, and there are many cases where animals are dumped on the street.

The announcement complements Finn’s Law, which came into effect recently and provides increased protection for service dogs and horses.

It was named after a German shepherd named Finn, a police dog stabbed in the head and chest in 2016 while trying to catch a man suspected of robbing a taxi driver at gunpoint.

It also builds on other policy proposals such as a ban third party puppy and kitten sales and banning the use of wild animals in circuses.

I thought it would be good to mark the Government bringing in tougher sentences for animal cruelty by launching a competition to find Wycombe’s cutest pet.

There would be a prize for the winning owner and a treat for the pet.

The Bucks Free Press is going to help me so please email your entries to stephanie.wareham@london.newsquest.co.uk with your name, where you are from and your pet’s name, or upload your entries to the BFP website underneath this article, and I will be judging the winner in time for next week’s edition.

Your cute pets - competition

Show us your cute pets and MP Steve Baker will choose the winner - make sure you leave your name, your pet's name and where you are from.

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