by Countryside Alliance

Under new government plans that aim to crack down on the increasing number of reported pet thefts, a new criminal offence for pet abduction is due to be introduced which will highlight the welfare of animals and acknowledge that pets are valued as more than property. 

Pet theft is an ongoing issue that has seen a dramatic rise in the number of reported incidents up and down the country. With the demand for pets skyrocketing in March last year as the country went into a nationwide lockdown, and keeping at a steady level ever since, pet theft has become an increasingly prevalent and worrying issue for many.

Director of Policy at the Countryside Alliance, Sarah Lee said: “This is a welcoming step towards tackling this dreadful crime. The welfare of the animal is paramount so the introduction of this new offence should be a strong deterrent to the criminals who perpetuate these unacceptable offences.”

This new criminal offence comes as a recommendation from the Government's Pet Theft Taskforce, launched in May 2021, in a report published today. Having considered evidence from academics, animal welfare organisations, campaign groups and other industry experts, some of the Taskforce’s other recommendations include:

  • Identifying and tracking cases: Reliable data on pet theft is limited and improved recording and data collection about these crimes will build a stronger evidence base about the problem.
  • Improving the recording of ownership and transfer data: New requirements to register additional details and a single point of access to microchipping databases will support tracking lost and stolen dogs.
  • Tackling the fear of crime: Police will work together with partner agencies to raise awareness about police initiatives and prevention measures.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: "Pets are much loved members of the family in households up and down the country, and reports of a rise in pet theft have been worrying. Pet owners shouldn't have to live in fear, and I am pleased this report acknowledges the unique distress caused by this crime. Its recommendations will reassure pet owners, help the police to tackle pet theft, and deliver justice for victims. We will consider its findings carefully and work with colleagues across Government to start implementing its recommendations.”

You can read the full pet theft taskforce report here.

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