The government has announced plans to add a new criminal offence for dog abduction in the Kept Animals Bill but did not include cats in the proposed legislation. Prior to this new offence, dog theft was treated as a loss of property to the owner.
Recorded cat theft crime increased by 194% between 2015 and 2020.
Best-selling author and cat lover, Jane Fallon, said: “Cats are every much a part of the family as dogs. They are intelligent, sensitive creatures and deserve our protection. I’d urge everyone to support Pet Theft Reform’s campaign to help protect our pets.”
Dr Daniel Allen, an animal geographer at Keele University and co-founder of Pet Theft Reform, said: “Pets are family, not just property. The Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (Sampa) has been lobbying MPs to take pet theft seriously for almost a decade – we’ve been working together as the Pet Theft Reform campaign for over five years.
“The Pet Theft Reform coalition welcomes the government amendment to the Kept Animals Bill to make ‘pet abduction’ a specific criminal offence. Making a five-year maximum sentence accessible for those who steal dogs is a positive step, as is recognising the emotional distress experienced by people and pets. There is still more work to be done.
“We are now urging the government to consider extending this offence to cats and other companion animals, and, calling for the public and MPs to continue supporting the Pet Theft Reform campaign to help ensure pet theft is taken seriously.”
Westley Pearson, CEO of Animal Friends Insurance, said: “The Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance and Pet Theft Reform campaign have done a fantastic job of driving forward legislation to prevent pet theft and we’re delighted that dog thieves will potentially soon face spending up to five years behind bars. Sadly, many cats are also stolen every year.
“It’s heart-breaking for owners and must be absolutely terrifying for any animal, cats included. Cats are just as much a part of the family as dogs and there should be the same deterrent for cat thieves. We need to continue fighting for increased sentences for cat theft.”