A DISTRICT MP is demanding tougher punishments for people convicted of animal cruelty.

Philip Davies, whose Shipley constituency includes Burley and Menston, said crimes against animals should be taken seriously and not dismissed as more minor than those involving people.

The region has some of the highest animal cruelty figures in the country.

"We cannot stand by and let animals suffer and allow those who abuse them to get away with it," said Mr Davies.

He welcomed planned reforms to some animal welfare regulations – including those governing pet sales and licensing, live exports and slaughter – and felt that people would be "greatly reassured" the Government was taking the issue seriously.

But he added: "We need to go further and commit to increase the penalties for people convicted of animal cruelty."

Environment Secretary Michael Gove confirmed reforms were in the pipeline, but said the UK already had some of the highest welfare standards in the world.

He added: "I will not automatically reach for stronger criminal sanctions as the only route to dealing with a problem, but there are particular cases of animal cruelty where we may well need to revisit the existing sanctions in order to ensure the very worst behaviour is dealt with, with the full force of the law."