A new criminal offence to crack down on dog theft and put people who steal these much loved pets behind bars for up to five years is being supported by Maria Caulfield MP.
The dog abduction offence, will be added by the Government to the Kept Animals Bill, bolstering the raft of measures it already includes to further protect pets, livestock and kept wild animals.
Prior to this new offence, pet theft was treated as a loss of property to the owner. This new offence will take into account the emotional distress caused to both the owner and the dog and will help judges’ ability to hand down more targeted penalties and sentences for pet thieves. A provision will also be made in the Bill to extend the offence to other pets in the future, should evidence support this.
By introducing this offence, the Government is following the recommendation of the Pet Theft Taskforce, launched in May 2021 to tackle a reported rise in pet thefts during the pandemic. Evidence shows that more than 2,000 incidents of pet theft were reported to the police last year, causing considerable distress for owners and their pets alike. For crimes recorded by police in which animals are stolen, around seven in 10 involve dogs.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said “The loss of a much-loved pet causes unique distress. I am pleased that we are legislating to recognise this specific crime. The new dog abduction offence will reflect the impact on animals in penalties for criminals, and deliver justice for victims.”
Maria Caufield MP said “A dog is not a simple possession but a member of the family and I am so glad that this new offence will recognise the significant emotional distress caused by people having their dog stolen that goes so much further than having anything else stolen. I am pleased to be supporting these new measures by the Government in the Kept Animals Bill to introduce the new dog abduction offence into law.”