Hull MP backs crackdown on animal cruelty

Hull North MP Diana Johnson is backing a new law to combat cruelty against animals.

The most far-reaching piece of animal welfare legislation for almost a century receives its Second Reading in the House of Commons today (10th January). MPs will debate and agree the content of the new Animal Welfare Bill before it progresses through Parliament and becomes law.

The Government Bill will, for the first time, require owners to properly care for their pets and thus prevent thousands of animals from suffering ongoing neglect. Once enacted, the Animal Welfare Bill will make it a legal obligation for owners to ensure their pets are well nourished, receive veterinary treatment if sick or injured, and are kept in an appropriate environment.

Each year, RSPCA inspectors have to watch in frustration and sadness as the serious neglect of thousands of pets at risk turns into suffering. Although the owner can face prosecution once suffering, as defined by a law dating back to 1911, it is often too late to save the animal from death or lasting injury.

As well as the welfare offence, the Animal Welfare Bill will increase penalties for those found guilty of inflicting the most serious cruelty on animals.

Further issues likely to be debated during the Bill's passage through Parliament are whether the docking of dog's tails for non-therapeutic purposes should be banned, and whether circuses should still be allowed to employ wild animals in their acts.

Diana Johnson MP said: "As a dog owner, I know that we have no greater friends than the pets we choose to take responsibility for. In return for the pleasure and total loyalty they give us, they deserve to be looked after properly. I am very pleased that Parliament is updating our laws on animal welfare.

"Some of the stories we hear too frequently of neglect and outright cruelty cause great public anger and there must be stronger protection for animals and heavier punishment for those guilty of mistreatment. Animal welfare organisations such as the RSPCA are delighted with proposed new laws that will to help combat the dreadful neglect they see every day, and not least the annual scandal of pets given as Christmas presents and abandoned.

"I will be voting to ensure that the Animal Welfare Bill reaches the statute book swiftly. I will also look with great sympathy at whether the Bill needs to be improved further by amendments on issues such a tail docking."