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Animal cruelty sentences to rise to five years
“We are a nation of animal lovers and so we must ensure that those who commit the most shocking cruelty towards animals face suitably tough punishments."
Michael Gove pledges to increase maximum penalty

Jail sentences for animal cruelty are set to rise to a maximum of five years, Defra announced on Saturday (30 September).

Currently the maximum sentence is just six months, but this is set to change following a number of high profile cases of animal abuse, and campaigning by the UK’s animal welfare charities.

The new legislation will empower courts to better deal with the most serious cases of animal abuse, including gangs involved with organised dog fights. It brings England into line with other countries such as Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Announcing plans for the new legislation, environment secretary Michael Gove, said: “We are a nation of animal lovers and so we must ensure that those who commit the most shocking cruelty towards animals face suitably tough punishments.

“These plans will give courts the tools they have requested to deal with the most abhorrent acts.”

Under the new plans, the courts will still be able to hand out an unlimited fine and ban offenders from owning animals.

The chief executive of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Claire Horton, said she was “thrilled” about the government’s plans.

“This shows that the political will is there to make the punishment fit the crime and so many innocent animals will benefit from their actions. This news will be very positively received by the public, the majority of whom share Battersea’s wish to see this change.”

Battersea has campaigned for five year sentences since February, and since then over 60,000 people have urged their MPs to back the change, and 145 politicians already have.

The RSPCA also welcomed the change, with the head of public affairs David Bowles saying: “We now feel that those who commit these acts will soon be receiving sentences that reflect the seriousness of their crime and hope this will act as a real deterrent against cruelty and neglect…

“The strength of feeling behind a move to toughen up these sentences is huge - but at the moment the courts are limited by the law under which the strongest sentence for animal cruelty is six months’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine - but this rarely happens.”

Draft legislation will be published, ready for consultation, around the turn of the year.

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Gucci pledges to go fur-free

News Story 1
 Italian fashion house Gucci has announced that it will no longer use animal fur in its designs. Gucci’s president & CEO Marco Bizzarri made the announcement on Wednesday (October 11) at The London College of Fashion.

The move follows a long-standing relationship with The Humane Society of the United States and LAV - members of the international Fur Free alliance. Gucci’s fur-free policy includes mink, coyote, raccoon dog, fox, rabbit, karakul and all other species bred or caught for fur.  

News Shorts
Avian flu text alert service launched in Northern Ireland

A new text system to alert bird keepers to the threat of avian flu has been launched in Northern Ireland. The service will enable bird keepers to take action to protect their flock at the earliest opportunity.

Keepers who have already provided NI's Department of Agriculture with a valid mobile number have automatically been subscribed to the service and notified by text. Bird keepers who have not yet received a text should text ‘BIRDS’ to 67300 to register.