Animal abusers who commit the most heinous crimes now face up to five years in prison after Government legislation gained strong support from welfare groups and the public.
Previously the maximum prison sentence was six months but the Government has legislated to increase that tenfold for serious offences, sending a clear sign there is no place for animal cruelty in England.
Only this month a Sussex based animal charity spoke of its outrage after someone sealed up 11 young cats in airtight cardboard boxes and left them to die. Fortunately they were discovered in time and rescued.
There have been cases locally of cats being tortured and dismembered.
The increase in maximum sentences follow a number of shocking cases where courts have said they would have handed down longer sentences had they been available.
The RSPCA has said the tougher sentences will “deter people from abusing and neglecting animals.”
David Bowles at the RSPCA welcomed the move and said: “The strength of feeling behind a move to toughen up these sentences is huge.
“Previously the courts were limited by the law under which the strongest sentence for animal cruelty is six months imprisonment and an unlimited fine - but that rarely happened.”