Government drafts bill increasing animal abuse sentencing

The government is remaining committed to its animal welfare pledge by publishing the draft bill Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience). 

If approved, the new law would see animal abusers jailed for a maximum five years – up from six months – and also recognise animal sentience in domestic law. 

“As we leave the EU, we will deliver a Green Brexit, not only maintaining but enhancing animal welfare standards,” commented Environment Secretary Michael Gove. 

“Animals are sentient beings who feel pain and suffering, so we are writing that principle into law and ensuring that we protect their welfare. Our plans will also increase sentences for those who commit the most heinous acts of animal cruelty to five years in jail. We are a nation of animal lovers, so we will make Brexit work not just for citizens but for the animals we love and cherish too.”

The proposals follow on the heels of a number of animal abuse cases, in some of which courts have expressed a wish to hand out stricter sentencing.

“This is potentially great news for animals post-Brexit,” added RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles. “To include the recognition of animal sentience as well as increasing animal cruelty sentencing to five years into the new 2018 Animal Welfare Bill is a very bold and welcome move by the government.

“Even better, the legislation explicitly rejects the kind of exemptions for activities that the European Union deemed acceptable – such as bull-fighting and producing foie gras – which will offer even stronger protection than Article 13 of the EU Treaty could ever do.

“We warmly welcome measures to evaluate government policy against animal sentience and we await further details.”

The publication of the draft bill is part of a wider commitment to secure the future of Britain’s animal welfare. Earlier this year, it revealed proposals to make CCTV mandatory in all slaughterhouses next year, with steps also taken to control the exportation of live animals for slaughter. 

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