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HomeUK NewsDog thieves could now face up to five years in jail after...

Dog thieves could now face up to five years in jail after rise in pet thefts

Under new government plans, people who steal dogs could face up to five years in jail if convicted of dog abduction, under a proposed new criminal offence

A new criminal offence to tackle a rise in dog-napping and “crack down on the heart-breaking issue of pet theft” has moved a step closer.

Under new government plans, people in the UK who steal a dog could face up to five years in jail if they are convicted of dog abduction.

The offence now is being added to the UK’s Kept Animals Bill, which is currently making its way through the House of Commons, after a recommendation by the government’s pet theft taskforce back in September.

The taskforce, which was launched in May, looked into a reported rise in pet thefts during the coronavirus pandemic. Over 2,000 such incidents were reported to the police in 2020 alone.

This comes after the terror threat of the UK has been raised to ‘severe’ following an explosion that took place in Liverpool on Remembrance Sunday. The change means a terror attack is “highly likely” across the country moving forward.

Dognapping remains the biggest issue in the UK, with around seven in 10 incidents of pet theft recorded by the nation’s police involving dogs, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Leaders from animal rights organisations have welcomed the move.

Chief veterinary officer Dr Christine Middlemiss said it is “an important step forward” with dogs being treated “as sentient beings rather than merely property”.

David Bowles, head of public affairs at the RSPCA, said that he hopes the offence will “act as a real deterrent to those who carry out this crime”.

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He added: “While the current proposed law applies to dogs, we are really pleased to see the government has also recognised how much other animals mean to people as well, and put in provision to extend it to other pets.

“We hope this new law, which will see sentences up to five years, will help crack down on the heart-breaking issue of pet theft.”

Defra has said that the new offence will consider the emotional distress caused to both the owner and the animal, and help enable judges to give more targeted penalties and sentences to pet thieves.

It added that a provision will also be made in the Bill that will extend the offence to other pets in the future if new evidence supports that.

This comes after deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam has said that the UK is now moving at “considerable pace” with its booster programme. The COVID booster vaccines rollout has been extended to all adults over the age of 40 from today, it has now been announced.

Both campaigners and MPs have been pushing for tougher penalties, stating that the current law does not reflect the emotional trauma of losing an animal.

In June, parliament had debated proposals to make it easier to find stolen pets after over half a million people had signed a petition calling for a specific dog theft offence.

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.”

Eve Cooper
Eve Cooper
I've been writing articles and stories for as long as I can remember and in the past few years I've had the fortune of turning that love & passion for writing into my job :)

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