Dog Theft: New Law Protecting Pet Owners in England

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.


1. Never leave your dog unattended in public.

It was once commonplace, especially in small towns and villages, to see dogs tied up outside shops while their owners popped inside.  But dog theft can and does happen even in the safest towns, so it's best to always keep them by your side.  If you are unable to keep them close, then play it safe and leave them at home. 

2. Never leave your pet in your car.

It would take seconds for a would-be thief to smash your car window to steal your dog, or even your cat.  Leaving your pet unattended even in your car leaves them open to danger.

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.

It's natural for people to stop to pet a dog while you're out walking, but always consider whether someone is a little bit too interested in your dog.  Some warning signs might be those people who start asking questions like how much they cost or whether they have been neutered.

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.

Having your cat or dog stolen is something that no pet owner wants to consider.  The new law offers some hope for pet owners that thieves will be justly prosecuted. But with the rising incidences of pet theft, doing everything possible to keep them safe just makes sense.  The Safer Pet GPS tracker is the UK's best value pet tracker, which means it's now really affordable for pet owners to keep one step ahead of the would-be thieves and keep their pets safe and secure.

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