Animals are the victims of parliamentary delays, warns Battersea

06 NOVEMBER 2019

Leading animal charity Battersea is warning disappointing delays to important welfare legislation are putting animals at risk.

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, which would increase maximum sentences for the worst acts of animal cruelty from the current penalty of six months to five years, has now fallen in Westminster for the second time as Parliament dissolves ahead of December’s General Election.

Claire Horton, Battersea Chief Executive, said: “Battersea knows Parliament is wrestling with some of the most pressing issues facing our nation. But improving animal welfare is one thing the country agrees on.

“This Bill has been backed by every major political party and animal welfare organisation, has the support of tens of thousands of members of the general public, and has made its way through much of the parliamentary process already. It will change the future for abused and neglected animals across England and Wales, which, even now, still have the lowest cruelty sentences in Europe. Despite all this, the Bill has been dropped yet again.

“The country and our animals have waited long enough – it’s time for the new Government to prove to the public that it takes animal welfare seriously and passing this long-promised, virtually uncontested Bill is just the start.”

Battersea has identified 12 animal welfare issues, including cruelty sentencing, that the new Government should be addressing.

Members of the public now have the opportunity to tell Battersea which they think MPs should focus on following the General Election through filling in this survey.

Claire added: “Animals can’t speak for themselves, so we need to be their voice.  Animal lovers everywhere are supporting us in this fight and are calling upon parliamentary candidates to do the same.

“It’s in our hands to make a difference and we want the public to once again, remind the Government what they should be prioritising on behalf of animals across England and Wales.”


For further information or additional pictures and case studies please contact 020 7627 9265 or email

Notes to editors

  • Battersea will be calling upon parliamentary candidates to address 12 animal welfare issues, from cruelty sentencing to brachycephalic dogs to cat microchipping. Members of the public can vote for the most important issues here.
  • The Government first pledged to increase sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years at the Conservative conference in 2017. Environment Secretary Michael Gove launched a draft Bill to bring about this change when he visited Battersea in December 2017. The results of this consultation were published in August 2018.
  • The Government first published a draft Bill for five-year sentences in December 2017. Consultation on this Bill ended in March 2018, with over 70% of respondents in favour.
  • After further Battersea campaigning, a revised Bill was brought before Parliament in June 2019. The Bill then passed Second Reading and Bill Committee in July 2019, before prorogation for Queen’s Speech
  • It was reintroduced after the Queen’s Speech on 15 October 2019
  • Second Reading scheduled for 29 October 2019 was postponed to make way for the Early General Election Bill.
  • The maximum sentence for animal cruelty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is only six months in prison in England and Wales and just 12 months in Scotland, compared to five years in both Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • Battersea published a report, Sentencing for animal cruelty in England and Wales, on 20 February 2017.
  • Battersea is also campaigning to see the maximum sentence for animal cruelty raised from one to five years in Scotland. For more information, see Battersea’s report, Sentencing for animal cruelty in Scotland
  • 117 MPs have pledged their support for Battersea’s campaign to raise the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years.
  • Battersea is here for every dog and cat and has been since 1860. Since it was founded 160 years ago, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats.
  • We believe that every dog and cat deserves the best. That’s why we aim to never turn away a dog or cat in need.
  • For further information on Battersea, please visit
  • Follow Battersea on Twitter @battersea_ or