Pet abduction to be made a criminal offence

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12 October 2021
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The Government has launched a raft of proposals, including the introduction of a new law for pet theft, following a sharp rise in the number of dogs stolen during the pandemic.

As well as cracking down on criminals, the new offence will prioritise the welfare of animals and recognise that pets are valued as more than property.

This is just one of several recommendations and key findings made in a report delivered by the Pet Theft Taskforce, which was launched in May.

Comprising officials from Defra, the Home Office, and the Ministry of Justice, along with the police, CPS, Border Force, and local government, the taskforce considered evidence from academics, animal welfare organisations, campaign groups, enforcement agencies, and industry experts.

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The report found that the price of some breeds skyrocketed by 89 per cent during lockdown, making dog theft more appealing to criminals looking to capitalise from the spike in public interest in owning a pet.

In addition to the new law, it’s hoped other measures, such as improved recording and collection of dog theft data, and a bid to simplify and streamline microchip databases, will make it easier for police to track stolen animals and catch offenders, and harder for thieves to steal and sell pets.

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said: “The new offence of pet abduction acknowledges that animals are far more than just property and will give police an additional tool to bring these sickening individuals to justice.”

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood added: “We hope the new pet abduction offence will encourage courts to hand out much tougher sentences to pet thieves, and we believe simplifying the microchipping database system will help to tackle pet theft, as well as other animal welfare issues and irresponsible pet ownership generally.”