Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation Welcomes Inclusion of Pet Theft as Criminal Offence

We welcome the Government’s announcement that pet abduction will become a criminal offence in the UK, following the publication of a report by the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce.

The Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation (CAWF) has welcomed the Government’s announcement today that pet abduction will become a criminal offence in the UK, following the publication of a report by the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce.

Reclassifying the theft of a pet to a specific crime is something the CAWF has long campaigned for, and the categorisation of pets as more important than property marks a key step forward in incorporating animal sentience into UK laws.

The Taskforce’s policy paper released today reported a rise in pets being stolen during the pandemic. The paper included several proposals which the Government has committed to implementing:

  • The creation of a new ‘pet abduction’ offence: Pet theft is currently treated as a loss of property to the owner, but the new offence will prioritise the welfare of our pets as sentient beings and recognise the emotional distress to the animal in addition to its owner.
  • Identifying and tracking cases: Improved recording and data collection about these crimes will build a stronger evidence base about the problem.
  • Improving the recording of ownership and transfer data: New requirements to register additional details and a single point of access to microchipping databases will support tracking lost and stolen dogs. Pet microchip databases will also be made more accessible under the proposals.
  • Tackling the fear of crime: Police will work together with partner agencies to raise awareness about police initiatives and prevention measures.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

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 this report acknowledges the unique distress caused by this crime.”

The full Pet Theft Taskforce policy paper can be found here.

The Taskforce’s recommendations form part of the Government’s wider Action Plan for Animal Welfare.

Lorraine Platt, Co-Founder of Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, commented:

We welcome the news today that the Government will legislate to make pet theft a criminal offence – something the CAWF has long campaigned for. Pet theft has a long and devastating impact on thousands of families up and down the country every year, and sadly this trend has only grown during the pandemic as more pets – particularly dogs – have been stolen and sold on.

“Until now pet theft has been seen as no different to the theft of an inanimate object – despite pets being sentient beings. We must now ensure that the police are given appropriate guidance and training to investigate cases and punish offenders.”

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