As we reported in our July blog, Protecting your dog with doggy daycare, there has been a significant rise in dog thefts in the UK since the pandemic began. Over 2,000 dog thefts were reported to the police in the UK last year, with many more thought to have gone un-reported. The good news is that this has prompted the Government to take action, with the creation of a Pet Theft Taskforce and a new law against pet abduction on the way.
What is the Pet Theft Taskforce?
The Pet Theft Taskforce was created to look into the problem and the impact of stolen pets, in particular stolen dogs. The taskforce included officials from the Home Office, Defra and the Ministry of Justice, along with representatives from the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and local authorities. They listened to evidence from animal welfare groups and other experts on the scale, consequences and current punishments for pet theft.
Isn’t dog theft already against the law?
Like any theft, dog theft is illegal under the Theft Act 1968. However, under current legislation, a pet is treated as a possession, and punishment is generally based on the monetary value of the animal, rather than the distress caused to the pet or the owner. Theoretically, the maximum penalty is seven years in prison, but pet thefts are usually treated much more leniently.
What will change?
The new offence of Pet Abduction will separate pet theft from other thefts, recognising the rights of the animal and the effect of the crime on the pet and the owner. Details have not yet been released about the punishment for the new crime, but penalties are expected to be significantly more severe to act as a deterrent.
What else did the taskforce recommend?
The taskforce also recommended easier access to the microchip database system, with a single point of access to the 16 different services currently operating. The taskforce also recommended increasing the amount of information held about pets. Owners will have the option to register dogs with the police, including pictures and DNA samples. This will make thefts easier to track and allow stolen pets to be returned to their rightful owners.
What has been the reaction?
The Home Secretary backed the new proposals, acknowledging that: “Stealing a pet is an awful crime which can cause families great emotional distress whilst callous criminals line their pockets. The new offence of pet abduction acknowledges that animals are far more than just property and will give police an additional tool to bring these sickening individuals to justice.”
Tarik Jayousi, Director at A&T Trained Dogs agreed: “We know how much their dogs mean to our clients and so we are delighted to see the Government taking such positive steps to combat the disturbing rise in dog thefts. We are doing everything we can to play our part in making dogs safer, with Lancashire dog training, doggy daycare and secure dog boarding in Lancaster.”
How to protect your pets
As we discussed earlier, there are lots of easy and effective ways in which you can reduce the risk to your dog. Never leave them unattended, such as outside a shop, in your car or in the front garden. Make sure they are microchipped and wear a dog tag, and make sure you update their information with their full details, such as DNA, as soon as the new systems are introduced.
If you are concerned about the safety and welfare of your dog as you return to work, get in touch today to see how easily and affordably we can help. A&T Trained dogs can help keep your dog safe with residential dog training to improve recall and stop them from running off. We can also take care of your dog when you are not able to, with doggy daycare and dog boarding to make sure they are not left alone.