The Pet Abduction Bill receives Royal Assent and becomes law thanks to MP Anna Firth’s Private Members Bill #PetTheftReform



The Pet Abduction Bill receives Royal Assent and becomes law in August 2024.

Congratulations to Anna Firth MP and Lord Black, who got the Pet Theft Reform campaign over the line!
Thank you to everyone who signed the petitions to secure the #PetTheftReform debates in Parliament leading to the Government’s #PetTheftTaskforce

Amazing teamwork 🐾❤️🐾

UPDATE 24th MAY 2024: The Pet Abduction Bill has passed through the House Of Lords and waits for Royal Assent! Thank you to everyone who signed the petitions and wrote to your MPs. Huge thanks also go to all the MPs who spoke out for their constituents at debates, supporting Pet Theft Reform, we couldn’t have done it without you.

UPDATE 23rd MAY 2024: Anna Firth’s office informs us they have just been told by DEFRA that the Pet Abduction Bill will complete its passage of the House of Lords tomorrow! We are incredibly grateful it has been included in wash up!

Public bills cannot be carried over from one parliament to the next in the same way that they can be carried over from one session to the next within the lifetime of a parliament. The period of the last few days of a parliament, during which unfinished business must be agreed by both Houses or lost at dissolution, is known as ‘wash-up’. 

The Government and the Opposition reach agreements on the bills—or parts of bills—that should be hurried through their remaining parliamentary stages to reach the statute book before dissolution which in this instance is 30th May 2024

UPDATE 22nd MAY 2024: Our worst nightmare as Sunak announces Election on 4th July. All our work and the Bill may be lost 💔

UPDATE 10th MAY 2024: The Pet Abduction Bill passed the Second Reading in the House Of Lords, led by Lord Black of Brentford. Now the Bill goes to Committee Stage then Royal Accent – Pet Theft Reform is getting closer!

Peers debate the Pet Abduction Bill

UPDATE 19th APRIL 2024:

Congratulations to Anna Firth MP for her Private Members Bill to make #PetAbduction a specific offence to put serious deterrents in place to stop this cruel crime. The Bill has now passed through the House Of Commons and will be taken to the House of Lords on the 22nd April for the First Reading. The Second Reading – the general debate on all aspects of the Bill – is scheduled for 10th May and will be presented to the Lords by Lord Black of Brentford.

We are up against it timewise as this needs to complete its way through the Lords to the Final Stages of Consideration of Amendments and then hopefully Royal Assent by the end of June!!!

Thank you to all the MPs who took part in the Report Stage and Third Reading, especially Therese Coffey, who always said, when she was Defra Minister, that Pet Abduction would be supported as a Private Members Bill.

Anna Firth said

“I’m very excited that today, 19th January’24, is the second reading of my Private Members Bill

I introduced the Pet Abduction Bill to make it a crime to take or detain a dog or a cat from the lawful control of any person

I hope this bill will be welcomed by pet and animal lovers nationwide.”

The third reading of the Bill is on the 19th April 2024. Once the Bill passes through the Commons, Lord Black of Brentford will take it on to the Lords! Keeping everything crossed.

Anna Firth MP with Lord Black of Brentford

House of Commons research and briefing file on Pet Abduction, 10th April 2024:

UPDATE: DEVASTATING NEWS : The Government drops the #KeptAnimalsBill which included the new offence for #PetAbduction and #PetTheftReform, 25 May 2023

Making a statement in the House of Commons, about dropping the Kept Animals Bill, Mark Spencer MP (Defra), said the government would be implementing ‘the’ measures individually before the next election, rather than in one piece of legislation.

He said the government was committed to delivering on its pledges, adding that the new approach was “the quickest and surest way of doing so”. Full article:

This is not the end for #PetTheftReform! It is now important for the #PetAbduction offence to progress as an individual bill.
and we are in talks with our supporting MPs.


Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP and Tom Hunt MP along with other MPs met with Lord Benyon. Sir Iain tweeted:

Good meeting with Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Minister Richard Benyon along with @Conservatives MP colleagues to discuss what’s happening with plans to progress key animal health and welfare legislation on, in particular, pet theft.

MPs From Left to Right:
Matt Vickers, Tim Loughton, Selaine Saxby, Minister Benyon, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Tom Hunt, Dr Neil Hudson, Jane Stevenson & Dr Luke Evans.

UPDATE 13 JULY 2023:

Lord Black of Brentwood questions Lord Benyon, in the House of Lords about Pet Theft and cats:

ORIGINAL STATEMENT FROM THE GOVERNMENT: WELCOME NEWS – New offence to tackle dog theft moves step closer #PetTheftReform

Government press release: 18th November 2021

A new criminal offence to crack down on dog theft and put people who steal these much loved pets behind bars for up to five years has been set out in the Government’s Kept Animals Bill today.

The dog abduction offence, announced in September by Defra, will be added by the Government to the Kept Animals Bill, bolstering the raft of measures it already includes to further protect pets, livestock and kept wild animals.

Prior to this new offence, pet theft was treated as a loss of property to the owner. This new offence will take into account the emotional distress caused to both the owner and the dog and will help judges’ ability to hand down more targeted penalties and sentences for pet thieves. A provision will also be made in the Bill to extend the offence to other pets in the future, should evidence support this.

By introducing this offence, the Government is following the recommendation of the Pet Theft Taskforce, launched in May 2021 to tackle a reported rise in pet thefts during the pandemic. Evidence shows that more than 2,000 incidents of pet theft were reported to the police last year, causing considerable distress for owners and their pets alike. For crimes recorded by police in which animals are stolen, around seven in 10 involve dogs.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

The loss of a much-loved pet causes unique distress. I am pleased that we are legislating to recognise this specific crime.

The new dog abduction offence will reflect the impact on animals in penalties for criminals, and deliver justice for victims.

Welcoming the introduction of the new offence, Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Christine Middlemiss said:

The recognition of the distress caused to animals by pet theft is an important step forward, treating them as sentient beings rather than merely property.

The new offence should build greater awareness of the significant impacts of dog theft on people and animals, and reassure pet owners that these crimes are being taken seriously.

David Bowles, Head of Public Affairs at the RSPCA, said:

The theft of a pet is devastating and we’re pleased the Government has announced these amendments which we hope will act as a real deterrent to those who carry out this crime. While the current proposed law applies to dogs, we are really pleased to see the Government has also recognised how much other animals mean to people as well, and put in provision to extend it to other pets. We hope this new law, which will see sentences up to five years, will help crackdown on the heart-breaking issue of pet theft.

Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director at Dogs Trust, said:

Having your beloved pet stolen is an extremely stressful, often heart-breaking experience. For years, Dogs Trust has called for harsher penalties to deter those who profit from this despicable crime. We wholeheartedly welcome the measures the Government has taken today to tackle pet theft and prioritise the welfare of our pets as sentient beings, and very much hope that the increased sentencing will make pet thieves think twice.

The RSPCA has warned the public about the risk of thieves stealing beloved pets. Victims of this awful crime include French bulldog, Minnie, who was found badly injured and abandoned late at night in Burnley. RSPCA officers scanned her microchip and discovered she belonged to a family who lived 170 miles away in Gloucestershire. Minnie was reported as missing back in March 2020 after being taken from her owner’s garden. She is now back at home with her family.

The police advises that dog owners should avoid leaving their pet unattended while out in public, vary their routines when walking their dogs and take basic security steps at home such as checking locks on doors and garden gates.

The new measures form part of the commitment to strengthen the UK’s position as a global leader in animal welfare standards. Since 2010, the Government has brought in mandatory microchipping for dogs to help reunite lost dogs with their owners, introduced additional protection for service animals through ‘Finn’s Law’, and introduced Lucy’s Law to tackle puppy farming by banning the commercial third-party sales of puppies and kittens.

The Kept Animals Bill can be found here.

Today’s announcement builds on the UK Government’s commitment to revolutionise the treatment of animals in the UK and introduce measures to protect the welfare of animals abroad, as set out in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare.

#PetAbduction #TheftByFinding #FernsLaw #VetsGetScanning #MakeChipsCount #ScanMe

We as SAMPA a campaigning group were recognised in the #PeoplesPetAwards 10th December’21 with a ‘Special Recognition Award’ for the #PetTheftReform campaign. Special thanks go to Dr Daniel Allen and who gave evidence to the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce.

Thank you to everyone who signed the petitions and wrote to your MP, working together we got the changes needed for our dogs but must continue to get cats and other kept pets included, in line with the new #PetAbduction offence.

I was very proud to have been invited to represent our SAMPA team, all the Facebook missing dog groups and pages and all owners of dogs and cats. We dedicate this award to all the stolen pets that are still missing 💔

Our Patron’s are Dr Daniel Allen, Marc Abraham OBE, Professor John Cooper QC, Beverley Cuddy and Brenda Blethyn OBE.

Co-founder’s of the Stolen And Missing Pets Alliance:, Vets Get Scanning, Pet Theft Awareness and the Dog Union

Winners of the Mirror’s People’s Pet Awards celebrating animal heroes announced:

CONGRATULATIONS to Dr Daniel Allen and Debbie Matthews on their Special Recognition Award

Pet abduction in England has been a growing problem and one that causes untold pain for heartbroken owners.

Now, thanks to the work of Dr Daniel Allen and Debbie Matthews, as well as their fellow campaigners, pet abduction is about to be formally recognised as a crime.

Daniel, an animal geographer at Keele University, decided to do something to reform the outdated legislation and teamed up with campaigners from the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (SAMPA) including co-founder Debbie, to launch a petition to have the law changed – working hard to notch up 100,000 signatures in just four months.

In July 2021 the issue was debated for a second time in Parliament, and the government pledged to change the law to make pet abduction a crime.

Debbie has been campaigning for a pet theft law since 2014 after her own dogs were stolen back in 2006. Debbie was fortunate enough to be reunited with her two Yorkshire Terriers following a TV appeal alongside her father Sir Bruce Forsyth and they started the campaign Vets Get Scanning, to get the veterinary profession to check microchip registration at pets first veterinary treatment to reunite sold old pets. This is being considered by Defra now.

#DogTheft #PetAbduction #FernsLaw #MakeChipsCount #ScanMe

Debbie didn’t realise she was first to be interviewed on the red carpet!