Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill

Until this summer, my family had two gorgeous, slightly geriatric rescue dogs that we had had for around four years. Like most old dogs, they could be smelly and often plonked themselves in the middle of the room, in the way. Frankly, I think they thought similarly about me. Above all, they were an important part of our family. They were massively loved and the love that they gave in return was clear for everyone to see. When we lost one shortly after the other, over the summer, it was a big loss to the family and everyone was extremely sad.

Spider and Willow had spent their first nine and a half years as breeding dogs. They had a tough start in life but, as far as we could tell, other than the enormous physical toll that serial litters take on bitches in particular, they were not mistreated. Of course, a number of other animals, particularly rescue dogs, have an even more difficult and tragic start and, often, sadly, end in life.

It is right that the Bill, introduced by my hon. Friend
the Member for West Dorset (Chris Loder), seeks to introduce penalties that will start to be proportionate to some of the horrific harm and cruelty that is caused to animals. It is almost a habit on a Friday morning to stand up and preface any speech on a private Member’s Bill with comments on how wisely the Member has chosen the legislation, how important it is and how it will make a massive difference. Rarely can those comments have been as heartfelt from Members on both sides of the Chamber as they are for this legislation.