New offence to tackle dog theft moves step closer – 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.

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:

Pet Theft Taskforce report released on 3rd September 2021

Foreword by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We are a nation of pet lovers. Pets are much loved members of the family in households up and down the country, and reports of a rise in pet theft have been worrying. Pet owners shouldn’t have to live in fear, and I am pleased that the Pet Theft Taskforce that we launched earlier this year has developed a series of recommendations to ensure that we can stop criminals in their tracks and give peace of mind to pet owners.

UPDATE on our #PetTheft campaign, which started in 2014, to ‘Make pet theft a specific crime in it’s own right’. This campaign has put pet theft on the political agenda, after three successful #PetTheftReform petitions two debates in Parliament, with thanks to the work and ongoing research plus the academic papers by our Patron Dr Daniel Allen. We are happy to tell you that members of the Alliance are working with the Government on the issue with the #PetTheftTaskforce May 2021.

MP Iain Duncan Smith: We need much tougher sentences for Pet Theft. Violence and theft of pets is wrong and we need to do something about it now. 15th March 2021

We need much tougher sentences brought in for Pet Theft and a categorisation that includes Pets/Dogs. We need the police to take this awful crime seriously, dogs aren’t even listed under the Home Office Classification, Pet Theft sits hidden from view under HOC49, alongside things that don’t have a home like a wheelbarrow.

I would like to see the introduction of the legal requirement for vets to scan dog’s microchips to check if they are stolen, ban cash sales and reconsider the reintroduction of licenses for pet ownership:

On 12th January 2021, Lord Goldsmith responded to a question put to him by Baroness Bakewell, “There are already laws in place in relation to pet theft, and it is the view of the Government that the maximum penalties available are sufficient. However, I know that colleagues in government are looking at what changes could be made to sentencing guidelines to reflect the fact that a puppy being stolen is not the same as an inanimate object being stolen. I hope that progress will be made shortly.” Watch here:

Tom Hunt MP update before Christmas was that the Lord Chancellor, who supports Pet Theft Reform was in conversations with the Sentencing Council and looking at the sentencing guidelines.

Tom Hunt MP, Petitions Committee member, wrote to Robert Buckland, the Justice Minister straight after the debate as he’d agreed he was going to look at amending the sentencing guidelines in the Theft Act to include a separate definition for our domestic pets. This was also backed up by Victoria Prentis from Defra. 22nd October 2020.

We need #PetTheftReform to give courts access to appropriate custodial sentences to act as a deterrent, provide punishment, and protect the public.

The 2nd Pet Theft Reform debate in Parliament on 19th October 2021.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Victoria Prentis said in her response “We do not currently think that the creation of a specific offence for pet theft, with a two-year custodial penalty, would really help much. We think the way to go is to continue the discussions that I know my hon. Friend (Tom Hunt) is already undertaking on sentencing guidelines. To that end, the Government are very willing to work with interested parties, including the police and animal welfare organisations. We are keen to act in this area, and I look forward to taking that forward with Members from across the House.”
and Tom Hunt in closing said “While I was in lockdown I had a virtual meeting with my Right Hon. and learned friend the Lord Chancellor which was positive”

All of this makes us believe that the law will be changed but pressure must be kept on all parties.

Although many of us may be impatient for this change, we must be patient as it takes time for new legislation to be implemented.

Watch the debate live (from 4.30pm, Mon 19 Oct):

Read the transcript:

Read the research:

Three consecutive, successful #PetTheftReform petitions:

2020: CLOSED
2019: CLOSED
2018: CLOSED

Zooming into history with the first virtual PET THEFT REFORM DEBATE on 3rd June 2020. The Petitions Committee recorded the meeting:-

Beverly Cuddy, Patron produced the updated briefing document:-

Dr Daniel Allen, Animal Geographer at Keele University and SAMPA patron has explained why we need Pet Theft Reform: Dog theft on the rise: how in danger is your pet and what can be done about it?

Spatialities of Dog Theft: A Critical Perspective:

Professor John Cooper QC (Legal Adviser and Patron) produced the Pet (Theft) Bill:-

PetTheftBill UPDATE: The Pet(Theft) Bill 2nd Reading has been lost as Parliament has been prorogued and election called, November 2019.

Beverley Cuddy (SAMPA Patron) produced the Pet Theft document brief:-

Updated Briefing Document:-

A lot of work has gone into this campaign to help stop pet theft and introduce tougher sentencing to act as a deterrent, please get involved by contacting your MP:- Template letter for your MP:-

We also support #FernsLaw petition to help missing microchipped pets get back home:- now closed and waiting for a debate date.

Open petition to #MakeChipsCount:

LucysLaw is in place to stop puppy farming and #FinnsLaw is in place to protect working police dogs, now it’s our turn to protect our own pets.

Make ALL pets safer, keep emailing your MPs. Keep the pressure on.

Watch the 2018 Pet Theft Debate in Parliament 2nd July 2018:

Read the 2018 Pet Theft Debate transcript:

Started by Gareth Johnson MP.