Animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports has welcomed the announcement by Environment Secretary Michael Gove, that animal abusers could face tougher sentences for animal cruelty, with plans to increase penalties from six months to up to five years in prison.

With dog fighting given a specific mention in the Defra release on the announcement, the League is pleased to see government recognition that dog fighting is a significant animal welfare issue in the UK.

Philippa King, Acting CEO of the League Against Cruel Sports said:

“Alongside other animal welfare charities we’ve been campaigning for more appropriate sentencing for animal cruelty for some time, so it’s excellent news that the government has listened to the people who are dealing with this on the front line.

“Our work on dog fighting has opened the eyes of many people who felt this despicable cruelty had disappeared. It hasn’t. There are people in this country who find it either enjoyable or profitable to force dogs to attack each other, and the law at the moment is a pitiful deterrent. If these proposals lead to five year jail sentences for those involved in dog fighting, this will be a massive step forward.

“Sentencing isn’t the only solution though – at the moment people can spend a few months in prison then emerge to go back to abusing animals. We need to stop that from happening, which is why we want to see a register of animal abusers available to police and those who re-home animals. If we’re going to stop these people, we need to stop them properly.”

A petition supporting the League’s call to introduce stronger penalties for those involved in dog fighting has been signed by more than 98,000 people.