Calls to change the law to deal with pet theft have been rejected by the Government.
The Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (SAMPA) has been lobbying the Government to reclassify pet theft as a crime in its own right. An e-petition, organised by the group, amassed more than 106,000 signatures.
But Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) George Eustice said: “The Government’s view is that the Theft Act 1968 provides suffi cient sanctions to deal with the problem.” Debbie Matthews, spokesperson for SAMPA, says: “The debate in Westminster Hall was supported by many cross-party MPs, and they all agreed that changes were needed to the ‘property’ status of our pets. It was moving to see the non-political side of politics shining through, as each spoke of their own personal experiences of having pets in their lives.
“In summing up, George Eustice massively exaggerated the existing sentence guidelines for pet theft. He seemed convinced that the crime was already rated a category two offence, which could result in up to three and a half years in prison. Sadly, in reality, pet theft is only a category three or four offence, which most often results in a fine or community service, making this an increasingly attractive crime, as was pointed out by very many MPs during the debate.”
Scottish Conservative MP Ross Thomson, a supporter of the proposed change in the law, has since introduced his own Private Members’ Bill, aiming to make stealing a pet a serious offence. The Bill will have its second hearing on October 26, 2018.
Debbie adds: “The more people that join this campaign for #PetTheftReform to protect our pets, the more pressure on the Government to make the changes we need, a simple tidying-up of the 1968 Theft Act.”