New offence to tackle dog theft moves step closer

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New offence to tackle dog theft moves step closer
New offence to tackle dog theft moves step closer.

New offence to tackle dog theft moves step closer.

A new criminal offence means dog thieves could now face five years in prison.

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 on Thursday, November 18.

The offence will be added to the Kept Animals Bill following a recommendation from the Pet Theft Taskforce made to tackle a rise in dog theft. The addition to the bill will bolster the raft of measures it already includes to further protect pets, livestock and kept wild animals.

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The dog abduction offence will recognise animals as sentient beings and sentencing will take into account the emotional distress caused to the dog as well as the owner.

Prior to this new offence, pet theft was treated as a loss of property to the owner, however, this new offence 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.


Evidence supplied by the Pet Theft Taskforce 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.”

The UK’s largest dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust, reacted to the announcement by tweeting: For years, we’ve called for harsher penalties for pet theft, so we’re thrilled to see Defra, UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, take steps to crack down on the crime.”


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