DAME Cheryl Gillan MP pledges her support to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty at Battersea event

Although the Amersham and Chesham MP was unable to attend the formal reception for the Battersea’s animal charity on February 12, she was delighted to add her signature to show her support for changing the law to increase the maximum sentences for animal cruelty.

Currently, Courts in England & Wales can only punish the most serious animal cruelty offences with a maximum of up to six months in prison, a banning order and an unlimited fine.

Last week saw the measure return to Parliament, following the introduction of a new Bill to change the law, allowing for sentences to increase to a maximum of five years for animal cruelty offences – something Battersea has been campaigning on since 2017.

The Government has already indicated its intention to support the Bill during its passage through Parliament.

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This change would provide the justice system with the flexibility to treat the most shocking acts of animal cruelty much more seriously than it can at present.

Battersea sees cases of animal cruelty all too regularly.

April, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, was brought into Battersea late at night after a police officer found her alone on a freezing London street.

She had an infected wound on her muzzle where her mouth had clearly been taped or wired shut. Following months of surgeries, April made a full recovery and eventually found a loving home. Unfortunately, not all dogs and cats are as lucky as April.

Dame Cheryl said: “It’s critically important that we change the law to better protect animals in the future. The current maximum penalty is neither a punishment nor a deterrent to offenders and this change is long overdue.”