The Kennel Club, one of the UK’s biggest organisations dedicated to dog health and welfare, has welcomed the Government’s support for introducing a specific criminal offence for those who steal pets.
Under the Pet Abduction Bill – a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Anna Firth MP – anyone found guilty of stealing a pet will face up to five years in prison, a fine, or both.
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.
Mark Beazley, Chief Executive at The Kennel Club, commented: “We wholeheartedly welcome this Bill, which would introduce a new and specific offence to tackle pet theft, 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. We hope that this Bill moves swiftly through parliament and helps to deliver justice for both the poor dogs and families victim to this devastating crime, and protect the nation’s much-loved pets.”
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. Its ‘Paw and Order’ campaign, launched after lockdown to urge action, 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 nearly 200 families every month, as just two per cent of dog theft cases in 2020 resulted in a criminal charge.
Further information about the campaign and current laws around pet theft, and advice on keeping dogs safe, is available on The Kennel Club’s website.