In this morning’s oral questions to DEFRA, the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove was asked if the Government will commit to increasing penalties for people convicted of animal cruelty.

In response, the Environment Secretary told MPs he is "actively reviewing" the penalties issued for animal cruelty, and that animal abusers guilty of the "very worst behaviour" could face tougher punishments.

Chris Pitt, Deputy Director of Campaigns for the League Against Cruel Sports said:

"We are pleased to hear Michael Gove recognises that current maximum sentences for animal cruelty offences are inadequate and need reviewing. Dog fighting, one of the most brutal and heinous forms of animal abuse, shockingly only carries a maximum six month prison sentence,  and yet if found guilty of fly tipping, individuals can face up to five years in prison.

“Current sentences have remained unchanged for over a hundred years and therefore fail to reflect the horrific cruelty inflicted on animals in the name of barbaric ‘sports’ such as dog fighting.

“We would urge the Environment Secretary in his review to seriously consider bringing the law into line with much of the rest of Europe and Northern Ireland, and increase the maximum sentence to five years imprisonment to better reflect the seriousness of the abuse involved.

“The League is also seeking that a national register of convicted animal abusers be implemented to prevent  individuals banned from keeping animals from flouting the law – a call backed by a number of cross party MPs attending our Summer Reception in Parliament yesterday afternoon.”

The League's petition calling for tougher animal cruelty sentencing currently has over 94,000 signatures.