Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Michelle McIlveen sets out animal welfare plan
An action plan to improve animal welfare enforcement and protect animals from neglect and abuse has been unveiled.
The plan sets out how 68 recommendations outlined previously will be brought in.
It will enable animal welfare enforcement bodies to work together to ensure the recommendations are fully implemented.
Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Michelle McIlveen said: "I am pleased to say that a number of the recommendations in the action plan have already been implemented.
"For example, legislation has been amended to substantially increase the maximum penalties available to the courts for the most serious animal welfare offences to five years imprisonment."
The minister highlighted another move, which enables the Director of Public Prosecutions to refer sentences for serious animal welfare offences he deems unduly lenient to the Court of Appeal.