Prison sentences of up to five years are to be introduced for the most serious animal welfare offences in Scotland, under new legislation published today.
The Government has also introduced unlimited fines and raised the maximum penalties for some wildlife offences.
Read more: Scottish government backs harsher punishment for animal cruelty
The changes will also see the introduction of Finn's Law in Scotland which offers extra protection for service animals, by removing the "self defence" plea from those who attack them.
The process for animals taken into possession on welfare grounds to be sold or rehomed quickly will also be improved without the need for a court order.
Read more: Owners of 'largest puppy farm in Scotland' convicted of animal cruelty offences
Kirsteen Campbell, Chief Executive of the Scottish SPCA, said the changes have the potential to be "transformational" for animals across the country.
“Prosecution is a last resort for the Society, but we have long felt the penalties for animal cruelty are too lenient and inconsistent," she said.
"We hope increasing the options available to Sheriffs will lead to fewer people mistreating animals in the first place.”
Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon said the new penalties would be "robust and proportionate."
She added: "Those who carry out these heinous acts will rightly face the full force of the law, as and where appropriate.
“We also want to see more protection given to service animals such as police dogs and horses, so we will be enacting what has become known as Finn’s law. I believe it is only right that animals which work to keep us safe should be given the fullest protection we can give them in return."