The RSPCA is calling for tougher sentences of up to five years in jail for the worst animal abusers to be made law by Autumn.
The charity fears the pressures on Government dealing with the coronavirus pandemic means the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill could be forgotten.
David Bowles, RSPCA head of public affairs, said: “We are pleased to see the opposition calling on the Government to get the Animal Sentencing Bill on the statute books by Autumn. As a charity which deals with some of the worst animal cruelty cases, we believe the current sentencing provisions, which only allow for a maximum of six months in prison does not go far enough.
“Sadly, cruelty has not stopped during the lockdown and we are very concerned about the welfare impact of an expected financial downturn, so now more than ever we need to see animals protected and sentences increased.”
Since the Government announced the lockdown on Monday, March 23, the RSPCA’s frontline officers have dealt with more than 47,000 incidents.
Animal rescuers have been designated key workers by the Government and have continued to work throughout the crisis.
David added: “Sadly, the current maximum sentence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 means you could face a longer prison sentence for fly tipping than beating an animal to death. As a nation that prides itself on its love of animals, this is simply not acceptable.
“We were thrilled when the Cabinet approved this Bill back in June 2019 but since then it has fallen twice and little progress has been made while cruelty continues.
“We hope the Government will listen to the calls made by Labour today (Monday, June 8) and make this Bill law as soon as possible. This will give courts the powers they need to punish those responsible for the most unimaginable cruelty to innocent, defenceless animals. We also believe this would act as a much stronger deterrent and hopefully help us stamp out animal cruelty once and for all.”