Our pet-loving nation may become a little safer for our furry friends soon, thanks to a new law.
The Government is expected to make ‘pet abduction’ a criminal offence. It means that people who steal cats and dogs would face a fine and up to five years in prison. It would apply to cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Stealing pets has always been illegal, so the threat of jail is nothing new. Up to now, though, cats and dogs have been classed as items of property. This new law would recognise them as living creatures that can feel, and takes into account the emotional distress that victims suffer.
Anna Firth, the Conservative MP for Southend West, is driving the change. She told the BBC: “I just find it unbelievable that we treat the loss of a living creature, a member of our family, as if it is a power tool or a laptop.”
Dogs are the most commonly-stolen pets. Research by Direct Line pet insurance estimated that six dogs were stolen every day in the UK in 2022. In 2023, Met Police figures showed that just 6% of pets reported stolen in London were returned to their owners.