Groups such as the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) and Battersea Dogs and Cats' Home have expressed concern about the sentences for animal cruelty, which do not always appear to match the abuse suffered by the animals, especially in the case of extreme cruelty such as dog fighting.
I believe that any sentences given by the courts must reflect the seriousness of these crimes. The level of cruelty to animals is worrying and it is important that we send out a strong and powerful message that animal cruelty must stop.
At the 2015 General Election I stood on a manifesto which included a commitment to improve protection for cats and dogs. I support the LACS' dog-fighting action plan which proposes a national register of individuals banned from keeping dogs to be held by statutory agencies.
Unfortunately, the Conservative Government is yet to make any significant changes to ensure that the punishment for animal cruelty reflects the gravity of the crime. The Government recently said that it has no plans to introduce an animal abusers register. I believe the Government should consider increasing magistrates' sentencing powers and ensuring that the most serious cases of animal abuse are heard at the Crown Court.
I will continue to press for clear and enforceable penalties against anyone who commits animal cruelty offences.