The UK’s biggest organisation dedicated to dog health and welfare has welcomed recommendations from the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce published today (3 September), following a successful campaign lobbying for stronger sentencing and better data collection on the crime.
Currently, sentencing places undue weighting on the monetary value of the pet rather than giving sufficient weight to the emotional impact of the crime, meaning it is often treated in the same way as the theft of a laptop or mobile phone. There is also no central record in order to help decision-makers understand the scale of the problem or the circumstances around it – for example, whether a theft was driven by opportunism or organised crime.
Setting out its proposals, the Pet Theft Taskforce plan to create a new ‘pet abduction’ offence, to better reflect the severity of the crime and recognise the welfare concerns; collect more and reliable data on the crime to build a stronger evidence base on the issue; work with microchip databases to identify and track stolen dogs; and tackle the fear of the crime, raising awareness about measures owners can take to keep their pets safe.
The Kennel Club has long campaigned on the issue of pet theft, lobbying for sentencing to recognise the emotional value of a dog and for better reporting and recording from officials so that underlying causes of dog theft can be tackled, and provided evidence as such to the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce, formed in May this year. The Kennel Club’s paw and order campaign, launched last month to urge action from the Taskforce, subsequently illustrated the need for reform and spurred thousands of dog lovers across the UK to write to their MP. Statistics gathered as part of the campaign showed the failure to tackle a crime that is devastating 196 families every month, as just two per cent of dog theft cases in 2020 resulted in a criminal charge.
Mark Beazley, Chief Executive at The Kennel Club, commented: “For far too long, sentencing provisions for pet theft have not reflected the devastating emotional impact that losing a beloved pet can have, and better recording and data collection about these crimes is needed to ensure that this distressing problem can be tackled more effectively. We appeared before the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce earlier this year to highlight our concerns and share the data that we had collected, and have since launched our Paw and Order campaign to increase pressure and spur decision-makers into action.
“Today, we welcome the Taskforce’s recommendations and highly commend the hard and persistent work of every organisation who has been raising awareness of this issue and calling for action for many years. This is a win that can help to deliver justice to both the pets and families victim to this crime across the country.
“We look forward to further collaboration with the Taskforce on the recommendations outlined, and how they will progress, work in practice and be enforced, and thank all those involved for taking the lead on tackling dog theft, so that those who steal innocent pets will be met with the full force of the law.”
Find out more about the Taskforce recommendations.
Advice on preventing dog theft, as well as more about the organisation’s Paw and Order campaign, is available on The Kennel Club’s website.