Government backs new pet abduction law

A new criminal offence for pet abduction has taken a step forward with the announcement of government backing for new legislation. 

Under the Pet Abduction Bill – a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Anna Firth MP – anyone found guilty of stealing a pet will face up to five years in prison, a fine, or both. 

Evidence from the Pet Theft Taskforce suggests that around 2,000 dog theft and over 400 cat theft crimes were reported to police in 2020, causing considerable distress for owners and their pets alike. With an estimated 28% of UK adults owning a dog, pet theft is a major concern to the public. 

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said: “As a dog owner myself, I appreciate deeply what treasured members of the family dogs and cats are. It is a deeply traumatic experience for both the owner and the pet when they are stolen. 

“This vital Bill will recognise the severity of this shocking crime and should act as a deterrent to anyone considering stealing a dog or cat. We will do all we can to support its swift passage through Parliament.” 

Anna Firth MP added: “I am absolutely delighted that the Pet Abduction Bill has passed its second reading, and will move on to Committee stage. As a nation of pet-lovers, it is vital that the law recognises the emotional impact that the abduction of a pet can have, and brings the perpetrators to justice that correctly reflects this. 

“Pets are not merely property like a smartphone or watch – they are part of the family. It is not right that the law does not distinguish this and I am delighted that my bill will redress this wrong.”

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