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Leading animal charity Battersea is warning disappointing delays to important welfare legislation are putting animals at risk.

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill, which would increase maximum sentences for the worst acts of animal cruelty from the current penalty of six months to five years, has now fallen in Westminster for the second time as Parliament dissolves ahead of December’s General Election.

Claire Horton, Battersea Chief Executive, said: “Battersea knows Parliament is wrestling with some of the most pressing issues facing our nation. But improving animal welfare is one thing the country agrees on.

“This Bill has been backed by every major political party and animal welfare organisation, has the support of tens of thousands of members of the general public, and has made its way through much of the parliamentary process already.

It will change the future for abused and neglected animals across England and Wales, which, even now, still have the lowest cruelty sentences in Europe. Despite all this, the Bill has been dropped yet again.

“The country and our animals have waited long enough – it’s time for the new Government to prove to the public that it takes animal welfare seriously and passing this long-promised, virtually uncontested Bill is just the start.”

Battersea has identified 12 animal welfare issues, including cruelty sentencing, that the new Government should be addressing.

Members of the public now have the opportunity to tell Battersea which they think MPs should focus on following the General Election through filling in this survey.

Claire added: “Animals can’t speak for themselves, so we need to be their voice. Animal lovers everywhere are supporting us in this fight and are calling upon parliamentary candidates to do the same.

“It’s in our hands to make a difference and we want the public to once again, remind the Government what they should be prioritising on behalf of animals across England and Wales.”