THE Pet Theft Taskforce has proposed to make pet abduction a criminal offence in England after around 2,000 dogs were stolen last year alone.
Of those, The Kennel Club released statistics that showed 335 of these thefts were in north west.
The Pet Theft Taskforce, which was set up after an increase in pet thefts during lockdown, said seven in 10 pet thefts recorded by police involved our beloved canines.
John Dwyer, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire has shown his support for making pet abduction a criminal offence.
He is also supporting a petition which has been set up by Knutsford Town Councillor Millie Morris, and introduces the idea of a dog DNA database which holds similar information to that of a microchip, helping reunite lost/stolen dogs with their owners.
Councillor Morris explained: “Horrifically, thieves are now removing microchips from stolen dogs to avoid detection.
“In my meeting with the commissioner, he quite rightly pointed out that you can’t remove or alter the DNA from a dog, providing reassurance that owners and their beloved pets will be reunited.
“I’m hopeful this petition will go viral. Dogs and all pets are family members.
“The grief that ensues from these thefts cannot be put into words.
“Hopefully, the petition will go some way to put pressure on the Government to set up a DNA database to make it easier to re-unite dogs with their lawful owners.”
Mr Dwyer continued: “We welcome pets into our lives, and they become members of our family.
“I’m supporting the petition raised by Councillor Morris – it will provide dog owners with extra reassurance that if their dog does go missing, they can be reunited.”
He added: “I welcome the Pet Theft Taskforce’s recommendation to make pet abduction a criminal offence in England as it demonstrates that pets aren’t just property, they are part of the family.
“Having a pet abducted can have a detrimental effect on our mental health and this proposal sends a message to families with pets, as well as the criminals who steal them, that we take this seriously.
“Hopefully, the introduction of this law will deter those who think they can make money quickly from abducting a family pet.
“Once we start seeing the courts handing out sentences it will send a clear message to those that pets are not an easy target.”
Other recommendations from the taskforce included:
• Requiring additional information when registering a microchip, especially when transferring ownership.
• More straightforward access to the different microchip databases available to make it easier to track lost or stolen dogs.
• Improving collection and recording of data on pet thefts.
• Further initiatives by police and others to raise awareness about prevention tips.
It is not yet known what the maximum sentence for the new offence would be.
Offences under the Theft Act 1968 carry a maximum term of seven years, however with the sentence being determined by the price of the stolen item, the punishment is rarely that severe.
Priti Patel, home secretary added: “Stealing a pet is an awful crime which can cause families great emotional distress whilst callous criminals line their pockets.
“The new offence of pet abduction acknowledges that animals are far more than just property and will give police an additional tool to bring these sickening individuals to justice.”
More information about Millie Morris’ petition can be found at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/591566.