Tougher laws needed to protect our pets

Tougher laws needed to protect our pets

Sadly, nobody is safe from this heart-breaking crime and the loss of a companion, working dog or much-loved family member can be devastating both emotionally and financially.

For the last 5 years, there has been a year-on-year increase in dog thefts, with the demand for dogs increasing due to the Covid lockdown and the trend continues with puppy prices at an all-time high.

Figures from 31 police forces across England and Wales have shown that 1882 dog thefts were reported in 2021, although the true number is likely to be much higher.

Pets are still only protected under the Theft Act 1968, in which they are categorised as having the same value as a non-living object such as a mobile phone or wheelbarrow!

A new criminal offence for pet abduction is set to be introduced under government plans to crack down on pet theft. The new law will recognise the welfare of animals and that pets are valued as more than property.

The new offence is one of several recommendations in a report published in September 2021 by the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce which was launched in May of that year. The Taskforce, made up of officials from Defra, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice along with operational partners including the police CPS, Border Force and Local Government, considered evidence from academics, animal welfare organisations, campaign groups, enforcement agencies and industry experts.

Since its establishment, the Taskforce has considered available evidence from academics, animal welfare organisations, campaign groups, enforcement agencies and industry experts to help inform its recommendations.  Other recommendations included:

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.

There are of course important steps that we as pet owners can take to reduce the risk of this callous crime happening in the first place.  For more advice on preventative steps to take and what to do should the worst happen, visit: