Develop sentencing guidelines for animal cruelty cases, educate the judiciary about the links between animal cruelty and other forms of violence, and treat cruelty to animals as an aggravating factor under the Sentencing Act 2002.
The Animal Welfare Act has been in force for almost 17 years but very few people have ever been sent to jail for animal cruelty, despite many serious cases of abuse and neglect. Judges continue to describe animal cruelty cases as shocking and alarming, but nevertheless impose lenient sentences. Parliament changed the law to increase the penalties for animal cruelty, with the maximum jail sentence now being five years. Despite that, the longest jail term ever imposed is just over two years. Sentencing guidelines need to be developed for animal cruelty cases and cruelty to animals should be written into the Sentencing Act 2002 as an aggravating factor.