The Stolen And Missing Pets Alliance’s (SAMPA) Dog Theft Awareness Day is in it’s sixth year, an annual event held on 14th March and is the start of Pet Theft Awareness Week.
Prevention and Advice is top of the agenda while explaining why we need tougher laws to act as a deterrent to protect all our pets.
No one is safe from this crime, the loss of a companion animal is devastating, the mental anguish from pet theft is overwhelming, children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. As a nation of animal lovers we consider our dogs, cats and other pets as family members. They are priceless and irreplaceable.
The Stolen And Missing Pets Alliance’s (SAMPA) first Dog Theft Awareness Day was held in Parliament in 2017, hosted by Gareth Johnson MP.
Over the last six years, we have seen a steady increase year on year but in 2021 it surpassed any expectations, with demands for dogs increasing during Covid lockdown and the trend continued with puppy prices at an all time high.
We were delighted to report that due to our work with our Patron Dr Daniel Allen, founder of Pet Theft Reform that the Government set up a Pet Theft Taskforce which resulted in the news that Pet Abduction would become a specific offence in the Kept Animal Bill and was working it’s way through Parliament.
The Pet Theft Reform campaign is evidence based with Dr Dan writing academic papers on dog theft, he led the campaign to make pet theft a specific offence with three successful Government petitions which triggered two debates in Parliament, we also had the incredible help of Tom Hunt MP, Siobhan Baillie MP, Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, Sir Robert Buckland MP, Dame Priti Patel MP and Rt Hon Boris Johnson.
The new law would give courts access to appropriate custodial sentences to act as a deterrent, protect the public and give the Police more powers.
Sadly we have just had the news that the Government have decided to scrap the Kept Animals Bill, 25 May 2023, with many campaigners left high and dry and wondering what we do next!
Tim Farron, Lib Dem MP has started a Pet (Theft and Importation) Bill on 6th June 2023.
Andrea Jenkyns, Conservative MP has started a petition asking the Government to Reverse the decision not to proceed with the Kept Animals Bill: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/638720
An estimated 2,160 dogs were reported stolen in 2022, the equivalent of six dogs each day, according to new research by Direct Line Pet Insurance.
The last Cat Theft report from our partners at Pet Theft Awareness found that in 2021, the number of cases increased by an astonishing 40 per cent since 2020 – and had quadrupled since 2015.
We noted there are some discrepancies on theft figures with police FOI’s, also bearing in mind that one Crime Reference Number refers to the crime not the number of dogs taken. We asked Mark Randell, from Hidden In Sight, why this is happening?
Mark Randell is a retired Senior Detective who has now dedicated his time tackling animal abuse. He told us,
“2020 has seen an explosion in Pet Theft reports although exact figures are unknown. As a retired Senior Detective who used to have responsibility in deciding operational police activity based on crime analysis, I fully understand the value of accurate data.
There are 4 categories of Theft under the Home Office Counting Rules. This is done so that Police Forces can report on crime levels and performance.
The categories are,
Theft from the Person,
Other thefts are then sub-divided.
‘Other Theft’ includes Dishonest Use of Electricity or Theft from a Machine, and personal items. So ‘Pet Theft’ currently sits hidden from view under Home Office Classifications: ‘HOC 47’, alongside anything else that doesn’t have a home, perhaps a stolen wheelbarrow.”
Mark went on to say, “It is no wonder then that the exact level of this crime explosion is unknown.”
Organised crime has been the driving force behind Dog Theft, which is a criminals dream job, because it’s seen as low risk with high rewards. The new Pet Abduction offence will act as a deterrent and give pet owners more protection.
Until the new law is in place to protect our dogs they will continue to be listed under ‘other thefts’ as second hand goods with low replacement value.
We know there have been many reports in the national and local press over the last few months on the increasing numbers of dog thefts and attempted dog thefts. We just want to point out that fortunately the risk to each of us is low, and being Pet Theft Aware, will reduce the risk further by following simple guidelines.
You need to be aware and alert on your dog walks:
Walk with other dog walkers.
Walk at different times of the day and vary your route
Keep your dog in eyesight.
Don’t wear headphones or talk on your phone.
Never leave your dog unattended in your garden, outside shops or in the car.
Check your home and garden security, consider outside sensor lighting and CCTV.
Call 999 if you’ve seen your dog being taken.
Call 101 if you suspect your dog has been stolen or reporting suspicious activity.
Call your dog’s microchip database.
Call the local animal warden
Register on DogLost.co.uk
Call local veterinary clinics and rescues
Get on social media.
If your dog disappeared right now, would you know where to find the microchip registration? Keep your dogs microchip number and the database contact number in your phone!
Don’t know your dog’s microchip number, get the vets to check it for you for free.
Dr Daniel Allen, Animal Geographer at Keele University and SAMPA Patron, responsible for three successful #PetTheftReform petitions and two Parliamentary debates continues to work behind the scenes. Facts and Figures can be found on the Pet Theft Reform website: https://www.pettheftreform.com
THEFT PREVENTION TIPS:
Don’t leave your dog outside a shop or supermarket
Don’t let your dog out of sight during exercise
Don’t leave a dog unattended in a vehicle
Make sure your garden, house and outside kennels are secure.
Check gates, lighting and think about CCTV
Be careful who can see your pet’s photos on social media
Change your routine regularly
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY:
Always have the following information in your mobile phone:
A clear photo of your pet, showing any distinguishing markings
Your pet’s microchip number
Local Animal Warden’s phone number
Your vet’s phone number
Your dog’s microchip database phone number.
Check your contact details are correct and up to date and flag as missing.
Make sure your details cannot be changed without your permission
Use social media
Poster, poster and poster again.
March 14th is #DogTheftAwarenessDay
SAMPA’s legal adviser Professor John Cooper QC explains his draft Pet (Theft) Bill sponsored by MP Ross Thomson who is waiting for a 2nd Reading date in Parliament :-
DOG THEFT AWARENESS DAY 14th March
PLEASE BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!
52% of dogs are stolen from gardens.
19% of dogs are stolen in house burglaries
16% of dogs are stolen while on a walk
7% of dogs are stolen while being tied up outside shops
5% of dogs are stolen from cars
NO WHERE IS SAFE ANYMORE.
#pettheftreform #theftbyfinding #scanme #checkthatchip
March 14th is #DogTheftAwarenessDay
March 19th is #StolenHorseDay
March 21st #MissingCatDay
We are proud to add the National Animal Welfare Trust as a supporter:- National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) has become the first animal welfare charity to support the #pettheft petition launched by the Stolen and Missing Pet Alliance (SAMPA).
SAMPA wants to lobby Parliament to change the way animal theft crimes are reported and punished, in recognition of the importance pets play in our family lives.
Pet Theft Awareness:- http://pettheft.org.uk
Our pets are categorised as ‘property’/ ‘personal items’ in law which explains why Pet Theft is on the increase. The punishment does not fit the crime and this is why we need the Government to Reclassify the theft of a pet to a specific crime in its own right.
List of supporting MPs
Gareth Johnson MP for Dartford, Kent. Conservative
Sir David Amess MP for Southend West, Essex. Conservative
Paula Sherriff MP for Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. Labour.
Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP for Chingford & Woodford Green, NE London. Conservative
Sir Henry Bellingham MP for North West Norfolk, East Anglia. Conservative
Jonathan Reynolds MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, Labour (Co-op)
Antoinette Sandbach MP for Eddisbury, Cheshire. Conservative. Antoinette.email@example.com
Stephen Gethins MP for North East Fife, Scotland. Scottish National Party Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rt Hon Mark Tami MP for Alyn and Deeside, Scotland. Labour
Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP for New Forest East, Hampshire. Conservative
Douglas Ross MP for Moray, Scotland. Conservative
Kevin Foster MP for Torbay, Devon. Conservative
Julian Knight MP for Solihull, West Midlands. Conservative
Brendon O’Hara MP for Argyll and Bute, Scotland. Scottish National Party
Yvonne Fovargue MP for Makersfield, Greater Manchester. Labour
Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning MP for Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. Conservative
Mike Hill MP for Hartlepool, County Durham. Labour
Henry Smith MP for Crawley, West Sussex. Conservative
Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP for Brighton, Kemptown, East Sussex. Labour (Co-op)
Alex Chalk MP for Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Conservative
Giles Watling MP for Clacton, Essex. Conservative
List of MPs who supported the Pet Theft Debate 2 July 2018
Chaired by Mike Hill MP
Gareth Johnson MP
Ross Thomson MP for Aberdeen South, Scotland. Conservative
John Howell MP for Henley, Oxfordshire. Conservative
Simon Hart MP for Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire. Conservative
Andrew Rosindell MP for Romford, East London. Conservative
Bob Stewart MP for Beckenham, London. Conservative
Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger MP for Bridgwater & West Somerset. Conservative
Jim Cunningham MP for Coventry South, West Midlands. Labour
Sue Hayman MP for Workington, Cumbria. Labour
George Freeman MP for Mid Norfolk, East Anglia. Conservative
Henry Smith MP
Yvonne Forargue MP
Dr Lisa Cameron MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow, Scotland. SNP
Giles Watling MP
MPs attending the drop-in 2nd July 2018
Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP for Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands. Conservative
Rt Hon David Hanson MP for Delyn, North Wales. Labour
Sandy Martin MP for Ipswich, Suffolk. Labour
Luke Pollard MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport. Labour (Co-op)
Sir David Amess MP
Alex Sobel MP for Leeds North West. Labour (Co-op)
Mohammad Yasmin MP for Bedford, Bedfordshire. Labour
Julie Cooper MP for Burnley, Lancashire. Labour
Neil Parish MP for Tiverton & Honiton, Devon. Conservative
Jo Platt MP for Leigh, Greater Manchester. Labour (Co-op)
Dog Theft Awareness Day drop-in 14th March 2017
Sponsored by Gareth Johnson MP
Dame Cheryl Gilham MP for Chesham & Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Conservative
James Morris MP for Halesowen & Rowley Regis, West Midlands. Conservative
Lord Trees. (Didn’t sign)
Luke Hall MP
Rt Hon Sir Desmond Swayne MP for New Forest West, Hampshire. Conservative
Helen Grant MP for Maidstone & The Weald, Kent. Conservative
Sir Mike Penning MP
Rosie Cooper MP for West Lancashire. Labour
Rt Hon Sir Roger Gale MP for North Thanet, Kent. Conservative
Rt Hon Steven Barclay MP for North East Cambridgeshire. Conservative
Andrew Rosindell MP
Sir David Amess MP
Mark Spencer MP for Sherwood, Nottingham. Conservative
Bill Esterson MP for Sefton Central, Merseyside. Labour
Scott Mann MP for North Cornwall. Conservative
Christina Rees MP for Neath, Wales. Labour (Co-op)
Dr Matthew Offord MP for Hendon, London. Conservative
Gavin Robinson MP for Belfast East, Northern Ireland. Democratic Unionist Party
Geraint Davies MP for Swansea West, Wales. Labour (Co-op)
John Stevenson MP for Carlisle, Cumbria. Conservative.
Rt Hon. Gavin Williamson MP Chief Whip (Not allowed to sign) (Minister)
Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP for Ludlow, Shropshire. Conservative
Liz Saville Roberts MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Wales. Plaid Cymru
Sir Paul Beresford MP for Mole Valley, Surrey. Conservative
Fiona Bruce MP for Congleton, Cheshire East. Conservative
Kate Green MP for Stretford & Urmston, Manchester. Labour
Simon Hart MP
Justin Madders MP for Ellesmere Port & Neston, Cheshire West. Labour
David Morris MP for Morecambe & Lunesdale, Lancashire. Conservative
Rishi Sunak MP for Richmond, Yorkshire. Conservative
Craig Tracey MP for North Warwickshire. Conservative
Craig Mackinlay MP for South Thanet, Kent. Conservative
Edward Argar MP for Charnwood, Leicestershire. Conservative
Andrew Bridgen MP for North West Leicestershire. Conservative
Mary Glindon MP for North Tyneside. Labour
Chris Davies MP for Brecon & Radnorshire, Wales. Conservative
Rt Hon John Spellar MP for Warley, West Midlands. Labour
Kerry McCarthy MP for Bristol East. Labour