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Several changes to animal cruelty legislation have been proposed in the New South Wales Parliament.

Abusers caught committing acts of cruelty to animals will now face the harshest set of penalties in Australia.

MP Adam Marshall said the move would see an eight-fold increase in the penalties under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA) and "was the next step on the crusade against those who neglect, harm or interfere with animals, especially illegal puppy factory operators".

The Prevention of Animal Cruelty Bill will change previous legislation and increase penalties for individual offenders and companies that treat animals harshly.

Any person found assaulting an animal could face a 12-month prison sentence. The fine will also increase from AU$5,500 ($4,255) per offense to AU$44,000 ($34,043) per violation. While not providing adequate food or shelter could see offenders paying up to AU$16,500 ($12,766) in fines.

Businesses, meanwhile, that don't provide adequate welfare for animals will face an AU$82,500 ($63,830) fine.

The Bill will also close a gap in existing animal welfare laws by preventing people convicted of the most severe cruelty offenses from owning animals.

Dr Joe McGirr, an independent state member for Wagga, explained that penalties are necessary to recognize that violence comes in many forms. The previous legislation recognized physical cruelty to animals but not the emotional impact it can have on animals.

"We applaud these new changes by NSW Parliament and welcome the implementation of harsher penalties for those responsible for animal neglect abuse," said David Barritt of Network for Animals (NFA).

"NFA also reaffirms our commitment to stand against animal abuse and be a voice for the voiceless."


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