Working for tougher sentences for animal abusers

On 29 April 2021, the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill received Royal Assent, meaning that the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty will be raised.

9th March 2021

On 29 April 2021, the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill received Royal Assent, meaning that the maximum prison sentence for  animal cruelty will be raised from six months to five years from 29 June 2021. We are proud to have played a small part in helping push the Bill through and thrilled that this vital change will give a voice to those who are unable to speak for themselves, today and in the future.

Since the Government announced the lockdown in March, RSPCA frontline officers have dealt with more than 200,000 incidents of animal cruelty. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill 2019-2021, will give England and Wales one of the toughest sanctions for animal abuse in Europe and hopefully protect animals across the country.

Animal Friends is calling on the UK, a nation of animal lovers, to help support the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill 2019-2021, also known as Finn's Law Part 2, and ensure that it returns to Government for its third reading, moving it towards the final stages of becoming law.

What is it?

It is a simple, yet vital measure that will ensure perpetrators who harm an animal by, for example, causing unnecessary suffering, mutilation or poisoning, face the full force of the law. That includes cases of systematic cruelty, such as the deliberate, calculating and callous behaviour of ruthless gangs who use dog fighting to fuel organised crime.

The Bill will mean that the courts have sentences at their disposal commensurate with the most serious cases so that the punishment fits the crime. That will send a clear signal to any potential offender that there is no place for animal cruelty in this country. Chris Loder, MP.

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill 2019-2021 will increase the maximum sentence for certain animal cruelty offences from six months to five years, would apply to England and Wales and would come into force two months after Royal Assent.

Why it is important

Under the current legislation, the maximum penalty for animal welfare offences is six months. Tougher sentencing allowed by the Bill would enable courts to better reflect the severity of the crimes committed against innocent animals. This would then hopefully act as a stronger deterrent to other potential offenders.

What it hopes to achieve

If the Bill is passed it will mean courts are able to take a tougher approach to cases such as dog fighting, abuse of puppies and kittens, or gross neglect of farm animals. This would increase the maximum sentence 10-fold, from six months imprisonment to five years.

It would also ensure that animals are defined in UK law as sentient beings, capable of experiencing pain, stress and fear.

What's happened so far

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill is not new to the House of Commons and its roots go back as far as 2016 when the Environmental Food And Rural Affairs Select Committee carried out an enquiry into domestic pet welfare, recommending that maximum sentences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 should be increased to five years.

Since that time, the Bill has been in and out of the House of Commons but to date failed to complete it's passage through Parliament to become law.

The Bill was reintroduced by MP Chris Loder in February 2020 as a Private Members Bill and recently succeeded in passing the Committee Stage. But the Bill is under threat once again and time is running out!

How you can help

This long overdue Bill faces the very real prospect of falling if Parliament continues to omit this issue from the agenda. Now is the time to call upon those in power to push the Bill through to the next critical stage.

Join Animal Friends and many others around the UK in asking the Leader of the House, the Speaker of the House and local MPs to get the Bill to its third reading and up to the House of Lords so it can finally be passed into law.

Writing to a Member of Parliament (MP) may seem daunting however, their purpose is to serve us, the people, and ensure that our concerns and our call for change are heard. MPs can receive many emails, social media comments and letters each day so it's important that you follow a few simple rules when contacting your local MP or a Government official

Here's some guidance on what to do:

  • Keep it simple, keep to the point.
  • Be polite. Abusive content will only be disregarded and potentially have the opposite effect than intended.
  • Be persuasive. Share why you feel the Bill is so important, speak from the heart.

You can find the name and contact details of your MP here:

On Wednesday 10th of March, Animal Friends sent:

Image of twitter post for Finns Law part 2

Useful links

House of Commons

@HouseofCommons (Twitter)

UK House of Commons UKHouseofCommons (Facebook)

UK House of Commons @ukhouseofcommons

House of Commons Speaker Commons_speaker

Leader of the House

@CommonsLeader (Twitter)

UK Parliament

UK Parliament @ukparliament (Instagram)

Members of Commons

Animal welfare blog

If you found this blog useful, why not visit our animal welfare blog to find more articles about animal at risk around the world?

From news and facts, to charities helping protect animals and the great work they do - find out more about animal welfare and those making a difference.


Campaigning for change

We passionately support animal welfare, and regularly put our weight behind campaigns for change - learn more about our campaigning activities.


We know pets

Animal Friends Insurance is a multi-award winning FCA-regulated pet insurer, founded in 1998 to provide industry-leading pet insurance and first-class animal care to create a better life for every animal.
As one of the UK’s largest pet insurance providers, Animal Friends works with vets, veterinary professionals, and partners pioneering the latest veterinary technology & healthcare advancements to achieve our vision.
Our policyholders have helped donate over £8.5 million to more than 800 animal charities worldwide and by educating and inspiring others to act on current events and responsible pet ownership, Animal Friends is driving positive change for animal welfare and conservation.