The UK has a robust legal framework to tackle this vicious behaviour in the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal.
The law, and the penalties for breaking it, were reviewed by the Parliamentary Select Committee for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2012. At that time the Committee did not recommend increasing the maximum sentencing available to the courts. However, I am pleased to say that the previous cap in the fine charges of animal abuse can attract has been removed, and I can also tell you that the Ministry of Justice is now looking at whether there is a case for increasing the penalties further.
The courts must decide what the penalty should be for each individual case, taking into account its circumstances and the guidelines laid down by the Sentencing Council. There has recently been a public consultation into sentencing guidelines for these crimes, which resulted in the Council confirming the removal of the cap on the financial element of the penalty, and clarifying a range of relevant factors that would indicate a more serious offence.
However, in principle I agree with the sentiment that sentences for animal cruelty should be tougher.
Kevin Foster's Private members bill is currently going through the Parliamentary process:
The aim of the Bill is to bring the sentencing powers available to the courts for those convicted of animal fighting offences in line with the sentences in the devolved administration of Northern Ireland.
At present, those convicted of an animal fighting offence in England can be sentenced to a maximum of 6 months in prison and/or a £20,000 fine, whereas those convicted in Northern Ireland can be sentenced to 5 years and/or a £20,000 fine
The Bill has already had its first reading on 4th July, with the second reading due on 24th February 2017.
You can read more about the Parliamentary passage of this bill here.