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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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Giraffe Conservation Foundation named BVNA’s charity of the year

News Story 1
 BVNA president Wendy Nevins has named The Giraffe Conservation Foundation as the association’s charity of the year for 2017/2018.

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation dedicates its work to a sustainable future for wild giraffe populations. Wendy Nevins said: ‘I have chosen the Giraffe Conservation Foundation for the BVNA Charity of the Year because I have always thought Giraffes were magnificent animals.

‘I also think it is important that we look at the wider issue of conservation and education across all species.’  

News Shorts
Scientists win award for openness in animal research

UK scientists have won an award for the 360ş Laboratory Animal Tours project, which offered the public an online, interactive tour of four research facilities that are usually restricted access.

The project won a public engagement award at the Understanding Animal Research (UAR) Openness Awards, which recognise UK research facilities for transparency on their use of animals in research, as well as innovation in communicating with the public.

The tour was created by the Pirbright Institute, the University of Oxford, the University of Bristol and MRC Harwell Institute.