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New law will mean jail time for pet thieves

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The government is backing a new law to tackle pet theft. Currently under UK law a stolen dog is classified as just ‘stolen property’, but MP Anna Firth’s Pet Abduction Bill could mean up to five years in jail and fines for anyone caught stealing pets.

In 2022, 2,160 dogs, roughly six per day, were reported stolen in the UK according to Direct Line Pet Insurance, with only a quarter of these stolen dogs being subsequently recovered. Newly appointed Head of DEFRA, Steve Barclay, who owns two dogs himself, highlighted the emotional damage inflicted on both pets and owners by such thefts. He stated, “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.” 

Firth commented, “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.”

However, some contend that MPs’ care and concern in addressing pet theft sharply contrasts with the contentious ban on the XL Bully. The ban, which has now come into effect in England and Wales, includes Government-backed financial support for having XL Bullies put to sleep.

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