People who abuse animals in the Australian state of New South Wales will be subject to updated laws that will see harsher punishments handed down.
Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall will outline the new rules this week as they want to send a clear message that injuring an animal will not be tolerated.
Those who commit the worst crimes, like such as bashing a dog, drowning a cat or torturing a horse, can expect a fine of up to $100,000 and/or up to two years behind bars.
The fine is a massive increase from the $22,000 that used to be imposed on people who attacked defenceless animals. These criminals would also be banned from owning another animal for the rest of their life.
But that's not it.
The NSW government wants to ensure no animals are harmed while they're under ownership.
If someone doesn't provide food and shelter then they can expect a fine of up to $16,500 and the possibility of six months in jail. The fine for this offence has been tripled from the previous $5,500.
Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall told the Daily Telegraph: "People who commit these offences are without a doubt the worst of the worst people, they are absolute scum.
"In some cases, these punishments are more than double that in most other states, so when these laws are passed, NSW will have the toughest set of animal cruelty penalties in Australia.
"For the very first time we will be giving powers to the courts to issue an order for an individual from ever owning, caring or even breeding an animal anywhere in NSW."
Animal welfare activists are backing this as a massive step forward to preventing animals from being hurt.
RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman said in a statement: "RSPCA NSW welcomes the decision to increase penalty amounts in relation to animal cruelty offences. This decision sends a message that the community takes animal cruelty offences seriously and that offenders should expect to be dealt with accordingly in court."
This is on top of laws that were introduced earlier this year which included pets in domestic violence offences.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman has proposed changing the current legislation to ensure people can't hurt or threaten to hurt an animal. He said pets are often used as a form of coercive control that is designed to torment victims of domestic abuse.
At the moment, if a person organises an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) against a partner, it can only stop them from 'harassing, stalking or intimidating the protected person, or from destroying or damaging their property or the property of anyone with whom they are in a domestic relationship'.
The NSW Attorney General hopes the updated legislation will change the definition of 'intimidation' to include harm to, or harm threatened to, animals, as well as ensuring animals will fall under the standard protection of an ADVO.
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