Court_ Dog before Sept16 pic2The Welsh Government must increase the maximum sentences which can be handed down to those convicted for animal cruelty, or risk treating animal cruelty as a far less serious offence, compared to neighbouring England.

RSPCA has long campaigned for an increase to the maximum sentence available for those convicted of animal abuse. A recent announcement by the UK Government confirmed that an increase – from six months imprisonment, to five years – would be made.

The charity has now learned the method which will be used to make this change – via an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This means – with animal welfare the responsibility of the National Assembly for Wales – the recent announcement relates to England only, and that a separate change would also be required in Wales to increase sentences.

RSPCA Cymru’s campaign follows examples of “harrowing, and inexplicable animal cruelty” brought before courtrooms in the country in recent years. In 2016, a North Wales man was imprisoned after giving a Staffordshire bull terrier cocaine, and brutally cutting the dog’s ears off with pliers. He was sent to jail for 24 weeks.

The charity is now urging the Welsh Government to ensure stronger sentences are made available in Wales, furthering the country’s “strong, proud record” with regards to animal welfare.

A 2017 YouGov poll for RSPCA Cymru also found that 80% of people in Wales support the maximum sentence being increased to a prison term of five years*.

Supporters can back the RSPCA’s campaign and call for action in Wales by writing to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs via the charity’s website.

Claire Lawson, RSPCA Cymru Assistant Director of External Relations, said: “The recent announcement by the UK Government about increasing the maximum sentence available for those convicted of animal cruelty in England was hugely positive news – and something the RSPCA has long championed.

“Sadly, every year, we tackle harrowing, and inexplicable animal cruelty. The cruelty we witness can be absolutely heartbreaking – and making tougher sentences available in Wales will ensure we never treat animal cruelty as a far less serious offence than over the border.

“In Wales, we have a strong record on improving animal welfare law – and we believe the Welsh public would expect the Welsh Government to be fully behind increasing sentencing. This would be a vital change, which would further our country’s strong, proud record concerning the welfare of animals.”