Last month Selaine Saxby MP for North Devon was one of three MPs to ask the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP about Pet Theft. In Devon and Cornwall on average 80 dogs a year are stolen from their owners, a quarter of which are linked to organised crime. It is not felt that the punishment truly reflects the crime.
A Dog Trust survey found that 99% of respondents considered their pets to be a family member. Any dog owner knows the real and intense pain felt when their pet is injured, dies or is stolen.
The Government has already increased sentences for people who mistreat animals, and tackled puppy farming.
It has also recognised Finn’s Law, which ensures that police dogs are now viewed as the living, breathing, sentient beings they are, leading to more severe punishment for their attackers. Three recent national petitions have been run before on pet theft, and debate twice conducted in Parliament, so it is clear the public are keen to see urgent action.
Jacob Rees-Mogg MP responded to the questions by writing to the Home Secretary, The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP saying “I wish to draw these questions to your attention for you to take note. Pet Theft is clearly a concern and I would be grateful if a minister could write to these members to set out the Government’s approach to talking the problem.”
Selaine Saxby MP said:
“As a dog owner myself, I am all too well aware that the loss of a loved pet, a member of the family, is far more than mere theft. We need police forces to further recognise the links between pet theft and organised crime and allocate more resource to the problem, something I know that our Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez is already working on. We should, however, also consider more stringent sentences for offenders. I welcome the fact that the Leader of the House has recognised these concerns and has asked Government Ministers to respond.”
Alison Hernandez said:
"Pet theft is not treated with the seriousness it deserves and reform is urgently needed.
During the pandemic, dog ownership and prices have risen significantly - pet theft is now the worst it has ever been, rising in some areas by 250%. Tragically, just one in five pets are ever returned to their owner.
Although the Theft Act of 1968 allows a maximum penalty of up to seven years, this never seems to happen. The majority of prison sentences awarded are less than six months. This act is over 50 years old and may need amendment."
Letters from Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg MP and to Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park attached below.