LEGISLATION that would increase punishments for people who are cruel to animals is set to make its way through parliament.

Currently, courts in England and 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.

A new bill to change the law, allowing for sentences to increase to a maximum of five years for animal cruelty offences, has been introduced.

The government has already indicated its intention to support the bill during its passage through Parliament.

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.

Ludlow MP Philip Dunne has pledged to support the tougher measures.

At the reception by Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, Mr Dunne added his signature to a pledge board for MPs to underline support for the change to the legislation.

“It’s important that we change the law to protect animals better in the future,” said Mr Dunne.

“The current maximum penalty is neither a punishment nor a deterrent to offenders and this change is long overdue. There is widespread public support for increasing sentences for animal cruelty, as shown by the 70 per cent support in the public consultation. I’m proud to support this bill and Battersea’s campaign.”

Northern Ireland has sentences of up to five years, and the Scottish Government is currently legislating for five-year sentences.

There have been numerous incidents of animal cruelty in Ludlow and south Shropshire. Earlier this year a cat in Ludlow was found to have been attacked with lead shot. There have also been incidents of cats being found injured and dead in and around Tenbury.

For further information on Battersea’s campaign visit http://notfunny.battersea.org.uk/