A new criminal offence for pet abduction will be introduced by the government, recognising that pets are valued as more than property.
The law will be introduced in the wake of strong lobbying by Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones, and after a reported rise in pet thefts during the coronavirus pandemic.
The PCC promoted a survey about dog theft last year, which attracted 15,000 responses from the East Midlands region. It revealed that 79% of people had grown more fearful of taking their dog for a walk during the day.
The new offence is one of several recommendations in a report published by the government’s Pet Theft Taskforce, which was launched in May 2021.
The report found that seven in ten of the animal thefts recorded by the police involve dogs. Evidence suggests that around 2,000 dog theft crimes were reported to police in 2020.
In addition to the creation of the new ‘pet abduction offence’, the Taskforce’s recommendations include identifying and tracking cases, and improving the recording of ownership and transfer data.
Marc said: “The report has set out some very positive new measures that will reassure the many thousands of pet owners who were increasingly worried about this growing crime.
“The Government is to be congratulated for its detailed and positive response to this issue and I will be talking to senior officers at the force to see how we can best implement these new recommendations.”
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 recommendations will reassure pet owners, help the police to tackle pet theft, and deliver justice for victims.”