A BILL to impose harsher punishments on those convicted of cruelty to animals has been passed into law.

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, which West Dorset MP Chris Loder introduced as a Private Members’ Bill in 2020, makes provision for the maximum penalty for certain offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to be increased from six months to up to five years.

The bill was signed into law by The Queen yesterday and will come into force two months from today.

The bill completed its third reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday, April 27 before being taken to The Queen to give her Royal Assent.

Mr Loder said:  “Those who are cruel to animals, can now be sent to prison for five years. It has taken months, if not years, of hard work to realise this and I’m delighted that Her Majesty the Queen has signed my bill into law.

"We are renowned as a nation of animal lovers and I believe that Britain can now take the lead on global standards for animal welfare.”

The bill has had wide support from cross-party MPs, Defra, the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and other leading animal welfare organisations.