Dog Theft: New Law Protecting Pet Owners in England
During the pandemic lockdown, the cost of puppies in the UK skyrocketed as people with more time at home started to search for companionship. Between March and August 2020, Google searches for "buy a puppy" rose by more than 160%.
With the demand for puppies rising so dramatically, the cost of puppies soon followed. The Dogs Trust charity reported that the cost of some of the most desirable breeds rose by as much as 89% during that same period.
As the value of pets increased, so did the incidences of lockdown theft. DogLost reported more than 2000 pets stolen last year, and 70% of those involved dogs.
Current ways to safeguard your pets include utilising a pet GPS tracker. The government is now taking steps to ensure that if a thief does get your pet, they will face adequate consequences.
New Pet Abduction Law
Until recently, the theft of pets came under the simple Theft Act 1968, as they were classed as property. With a maximum sentence of seven years, and the punishment linked to the value of the property stolen, most pet thefts resulted in nothing more than a fine. Campaigners have long been arguing that this is little deterrent in comparison to the potential financial rewards of stealing pets to sell them on. Now, a taskforce set up to deal with the rise in pet theft has recommended a new criminal offence of pet abduction. This proposed law will recognise pets as sentient beings rather than property, and it is hoped that it will be a greater disincentive to pet theft while also making it easier for the thieves to be prosecuted. In recognition of the trauma caused to both owner and animal when a family pet is stolen, the new law also comes with tougher sentencing for animal thieves. This is all great news for pet owners who have been devastated by the theft of their family member or who have been frightened to walk their dogs due to the danger of being attacked by a thief. In addition to the new law, the taskforce has proposed a range of measures to tackle the problem of pet theft, including:
- collecting additional owner information
- easier access to databases to facilitate tracking lost or stolen pets
- improving access to data on pet theft
- greater awareness of pet theft prevention
How to Prevent Pet Theft
It's reassuring to know that measures are being taken to bring pet thieves to justice. However, pet owners will still hope to avoid altogether the heartbreak and devastation of losing their pet, whether it's to a thief or just through straying. Because they are relatively easy to handle, and there is a ready market for them, dogs are particularly vulnerable to theft. Luckily there are ways to keep your pet safe from thieves.
3. Keep your house and garden secure.
It's shocking to realise that 70% of pet thefts happen from home. It has even been known for thieves to walk right into an unlocked house and steal a dog with the owners in another room completely unaware. So you can imagine how easy it would be for a criminal to take your dog or your cat from your unlocked garden.
4. Be wary of strangers who show too much interest in your pets.
5. Always know where your pets are.
A pet fitted with a GPS dog tracker or cat tracker will always be more secure than one who isn't. Using a pet GPS tracker for your cat or dog, like those available from Safer Pet, will enable you to identify your pet's location using an app on your phone.