International equine charity World Horse Welfare is urging supporters to add their voice to a campaign to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences from six months to five years in England and Wales.
The move would bring England and Wales into line with the rest of Great Britain; The higher penalty is already law in Northern Ireland and last year the Scottish Government introduced the Animals and Wildlife (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill to Parliament, which will increase the maximum sentence to five years in Scotland, if approved.
“The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill fell twice last year and while we welcomed its inclusion in the Queen’s Speech at the start of the new Parliament, we need your help to make sure the Goverment acts upon its promises and passes this law as a matter of urgency,” said chief executive Roly Owers.
“We believe it is time England and Wales follow suit to help encourage tougher — and more proportionate — sentences to be given and act as a proper deterrent to those who abuse horses.”
Owers said that the more MPs who back an increase in the maximum sentence, the greater the chance that it will be prioritised and become law quickly. “You can do this by writing to your local MP, highlighting why a change in the law is needed and asking them to actively support it.”
World Horse Welfare has strealined the process, with an online form that will identify the supporter’s MP based on their address. It has also suggested wording for an email, but encourages users to personalise it so that MPs don’t receive identical emails many times.
“If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you can help raise animal welfare standards in the rest of the UK because your local MP can support these proposed changes to legislation in Westminster. Regardless of where you live in the UK you may have emailed your MP on this subject previously, but if you did so before the General Election then please consider sending another email, particularly if your MP has changed. This will help ensure that five-year sentences finally become law,” Owers said.