Yesterday, the UK government announced its support for a new legislation that will form a specific offence for pet abduction. The new law is part of the Private Member’s Bill brought by Anna Firth MP. The law will punish individuals who steal dogs and cats from their respective owners or keepers. The bill passed its second reading on 19th of January 2024. It has now moved on to the committee stage.
Insights into the New Law and Why it’s Needed
The new law aims to recognise that pets are not mere property. They are sentient beings and go through emotional distress and trauma after being stolen by strangers. When punishing the offenders, the welfare of the animals will be taken into consideration. Any individual who steals a pet will face punishment up to five years in prison, or a fine.
The new law also addresses the problem of pet theft which became more prevalent during the lockdown in the UK. The Pet Theft Taskforce, back in May 2021 found that the price of some breeds increased by 89% in the previous year. So, criminals attempted to steal more and around 2,000 dogs and over 400 cats were stolen that year. Some might face both punishments.
Perks of the new law
The new law will protect pets and owners from theft. It will deter criminals from stealing animals. In addition, it will also, enable the police and the courts to monitor and document pet abduction cases better. Further, it will improve the microchipping systems to find and return lost and stolen pets. Finally, the new law is part of the government’s plan to improve animal welfare. The plan also bans live animal export, stops puppy smuggling, and prohibits primate ownership.
Tips for pet/dog Owners to Safeguard Their Pet
While the new law certainly provides more protection, support, and assurance for pet/dog owners. There are also some steps that owners can take to prevent the event of a pet or dog being stolen or lost. These include:
- Microchipping pets and keeping the details up to date
- Using a collar and tag with proper contact details
- Keeping pets in sight and under control when outside
- Securing garden and home to prevent access by strangers
- Avoiding leaving pets unattended in public places or vehicles
- Reporting any suspicious activity or attempted theft to the police
- If the pet/dog is stolen or lost immediately contact local authorities, animal welfare organisations, and the microchip database for assistance.
Dogs are more than just property. For many people, they are part of the family. The new pet abduction law recognising this sentiment seeks to protect the bond which exists between pets and their owners.