Updated at 7.09pm: The government on Friday proposed tougher penalties on forms of cruelty to animals such as beating, kicking and torturing them. A spokesman said the proposals, included in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill 2006, were designed to increase deterrence. According to the proposals, the maximum fine for animal cruelty offences would be increased from $5,000 to $100,000 and the maximum jail sentence would rise from six months to a year. The amendment bill was gazetted on Friday and would be introduced into the Legislative Council on July 5. ?A heavier penalty is necessary in view of the recent animal cruelty cases and public concerns about animal abuse,? a spokesman for the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau said on Friday. ?The proposed penalty level is in line with other developed countries and can reflect the seriousness of animal cruelty in the present day context,? he added. Animal concern groups and legislators have been criticising existing penalities for being too lenient. Thousands of pet lovers took to the streets in January calling for stiffer penalities following revelations of a number a horrific animal cruelty cases. In two recent high-profile cases, four kittens had their legs broken by an attacker in Mongkok and a dog whose legs had been cut off was found dumped in Yuen Long. According to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, 29 people were prosecuted for animal abuse between January 2004 and September 2005, of whom 26 were convicted. Only two were jailed, for less than one month each, while 23 people were fined an average of $1,292.