WEST Dorset MP Chris Loder has successfully changed the law on animal welfare, meaning those who commit cruelty to animals will now face tougher sentencing.
Mr Loder’s Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021 was signed into law by Her Majesty The Queen last week, increasing the maximum penalty for certain offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 by tenfold, from six months to up to five years.
The new law will now come into force in two months.
Mr Loder said: “Those who are cruel to animals, can now be sent to prison for five years. It has taken months, if not years, of hard work to realise this and I’m delighted that Her Majesty the Queen has signed my bill into law.
“We are renowned as a nation of animal lovers and I believe that Britain can now take the lead on global standards for animal welfare.”
The MP has steered the bill, which he introduced to parliament in February 2020, through the disruption to parliamentary business caused by coronavirus.
The bill was signed into law merely hours before the end of the parliamentary session when, if not having achieved Royal Assent, it would have fallen.
The MP, who is a fourth-generation farmer’s son and an advocate of high animal welfare, says his own dog, Poppy, a springer spaniel, was the inspiration for the bill.
She was cruelly abandoned at the roadside in West Dorset in January 2019 but is now the Loder family’s much-loved farm dog.
Poppy was in a very poor condition when the MP found her on a stormy night and needed emergency veterinary care for long-term issues that the previous owner should have addressed.
Mr Loder’s new law has had wide support from cross-party MPs, Defra, the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and other leading animal welfare organisations.