Following an increase in pet thefts, dognappers could face up to five years in prison.
The Government today announced a new criminal offence of dog abduction, which will help “deliver justice for victims,” according to the Environment Secretary.
The government’s Kept Animals Bill proposes a plan to crack down on dog theft and jail people who steal pets for up to five years.
Previously, pet theft was considered a loss of property to the owner.
Ministers claim, however, that enacting the new offense will take into account the emotional distress experienced by both the owner and the dog.
It will also assist judges in imposing more targeted penalties and sentences for pet thieves, according to the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs.
“The loss of a much-loved pet causes unique distress,” Environment Secretary George Eustice said, right.
I’m glad we’re enacting legislation to recognize this specific crime.
“The new dog abduction offense will account for the impact on animals in criminal penalties and provide justice for victims.”
The government is acting on the recommendations of the Pet Theft Task Force, which was established in May to address an increase in abductions reported during the pandemic.
Last year, over 2,000 incidents of pet theft were reported to the police, causing “considerable distress for owners and their pets alike,” according to Defra.
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Around seven out of ten crimes involving stolen animals involved dogs.
“The theft of a pet is devastating, and we’re pleased the Government has announced these amendments, which we hope will act as a real deterrent to those who commit this crime,” said David Bowles, head of public affairs at the RSPCA.
“While the current proposed law only applies to dogs, we are pleased to see that the government has recognized the importance of other animals to people and has included language that allows it to be extended to other pets.”