You can help get pet theft reform back on the political agenda.
Write to, or email, your local MP: The Pet Theft debate continues!
This template letter is asking for your MP to support #PetTheftReform to protect our pets.
It’s really easy to write to or email your MP and your help will go a long way: here’s what to do:-
To find your MP, enter your postcode and hit next to find their constituents address and email address.
Just click on this link:- http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
Subject: Pet Theft Reform update
Firstly I would like to thank you for supporting Pet Theft Reform and endorsing the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce which announced plans to bring forward a new criminal offence for pet abduction in the Kept Animals Bill: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-offence-to-tackle-dog-theft-moves-step-closer
In the Government’s press release it says “ The dog abduction offence, announced in September 2021, 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.
Unfortunately the Kept Animals Bill has been scrapped, 25th May 2023!
Every year the Stolen And Missing Pets Alliance Patron and founder of Pet Theft Reform Dr Daniel Allen, Keele University, relies on a Freedom Of Information Request from Police Forces across the UK for his academic work which compares theft numbers from previous years. This years responses have raised concerns.
Police responses for Dog Theft figures in 2022 :
“Property data is not currently available for use in the new performance system. This means that we can’t provide information about property, including items stolen during crimes. Please note that DOG is likely to return a large number of irrelevant results.”
“Unfortunately, ‘Dog Theft’ is not a specific offence on our Crime recording system, therefore it would require the key word search for a term like ‘dog’ etc. However, this does not return reliable data”.
Until the new Pet Abduction offence is introduced by law pet theft is 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 and act as a serious deterrent, protect the public and give the Police more powers. A provision will also be made in the Bill to extend the offence to other pets in the future, should evidence support this”. I hope cats will be included too.
We are concerned because the Government have sidestepped the new Pet Abduction offence, the police appear to have taken a step back from recording pet thefts and helping desperate families, despite their survey and promises in March 2021: https://www.apccs.police.uk/media/6157/results-of-the-apcc-dog-theft-survey.pdf
Please can you ask Defra what their plans are for the individual campaigns now in disarray from their decision to drop the Kept Animals Bill and ask your local Police Commissioner why Dog Theft appears to be dropping off their radar?
I look forward to your response.
Feel free to use the template letter including your own feelings and/or experience of your missing or stolen dog, cat, horse or any other pet and include a poster.
MPs are far more likely to reply if they receive personal correspondence from you and don’t forget to ask family, friends and neighbours to write in, as the more letters they receive on one topic pushes the issue to the top of the pile.
Prefer to tweet? You can use the example below, getting your MPs Twitter address from http://tweetyourmp.com/
Please support #PetTheftReform [@MPname] as my MP, please join @sampauk_ @Dr_Dan_1 in this fact based campaign to protect our dogs and cats 🐾
MP’s are replying with a standard copy and paste email:
Response to the response:-
As promised here is a template that you can use to respond to the response that you have received from your MP. You are more than welcome to personalise it to suit your case.
Good Luck and let us know his/her answer.
Thank you for your response
I accept that the theft of a pet is already a criminal offence under Theft Act 1968 and the maximum penalty is seven years imprisonment but the fact is that this is totally misleading as in the debate in July, 2018, the Rt Hon George Eustice, the then Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said “ applying our interpretation of the most recent guidance, a seven-year maximum penalty is largely theoretical for pet theft unless there are other aggravating circumstances.”
In the same debate the Minister said “Our reading of the current guidance, which was issued in 2016, is that in applying that guidance, the theft of a pet should be considered as either a category two or a category three offence. The custodial sentence is two years for a category two offence and one year for a category three.” Because the financial worth of most pets including dogs is less than £500 then most thefts will fall into category three and with mitigation, this ends up as no more than a slap on the wrist. The worth of a domesticated sentient being should not be based on a financial one so allowing the courts to impose greater sentences.
Since the introduction of Theft Act 1968 much has changed including the lifestyle of pets and their relationship with us humans yet the law bundles it in with laptops, etc while still continuing to separately classify bicycles and motor vehicles.
In the latest Zoom Conference in July held by the Petitions Committee following the petition in 2019, Mr John Cooper, QC said “It’s not a particularly revolutionary thought or proposal to say that the Theft Act should be amended to specifically refer to theft of a pet. And by doing that, it gives it a unique category upon which the Courts then can bite, for want of a better expression, and sentence, so that the theft of a pet, which is far more significant potentially than many other aspects of theft so that it’s a wholly unique category which enables the court to focus closely upon the sentencing parameter rather than it being morphed as it presently is.”
I would ask that you take a few moments of your precious time to read the transcript of that conference: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/1511/documents/13808/default/?fbclid=IwAR04f63YEu8vCce1ye9VQejcn5-hJEvJRIBrJtrhWtDfWxUdTrP405Y2IZc
With the new legislation on breeding and the escalating prices of puppies together with lockdown, dog theft is on the increase and there is never a better moment for the law to be amended and for this I ask that you reconsider your support and help to prevent further misery and heartache.
Regarding your point about microchipping unfortunately due to the inability of the numerous databases to work together and the lack of compulsory scanning the much need reunifications are not taking place and the need for change is demonstrated by the FernsLaw petition.
I thank you for your time and look forward to a positive response.
SAMPA set out two routes to reform, amending the Theft Act is the preferred and easiest option:-
One is to revise sentencing guidelines in the Theft Act 1968 to ‘reclassify the theft of a pet to a specific crime in its own right’, including a simple ‘domestic pet’ definition.
The second route is to ‘amend animal welfare law to make pet theft a specific offence’ through the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This would ensure courts consider the fear, alarm or distress to sentient animals rather than their monetary value.
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:
Compulsory cat microchipping is great in theory – but the system is flawed:
Time for some MYTH BUSTING!
UK Government – ‘The theft of a pet is already a criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968 and the maximum penalty is seven years’ imprisonment and so there is no need to introduce a separate offence.’
CPS: – ‘Theft is triable either-way with a maximum penalty in the Crown Court of seven years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine and in the magistrates’ court, six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.’ – CPS
Pet Theft Reform – Only Crown Court can deliver sentences in excess of 6 months. For a case of theft to be heard before the Crown Court, the cases are either a) secondary offences, so tagged on to Burglary; b) repeat offenders or c) major offences of a value over £100,000. This is where the assumed monetary value of the pet becomes relevant.
As the sentencing guidelines currently stand, it will be impossible to secure a custodial sentence for most pet thefts because of the benchmark value of £500. Reality is, a custodial sentence is unlikely to apply unless it is a secondary offence used to justify and bolster a harsh primary sentence.