Thank you to all those who have contacted me about pet theft and the recently-introduced Pet Abduction Bill.

There should be measures in place to prevent pet thefts from happening, and I welcome the introduction of the Pet Abduction Bill. This legislation, introduced in December 2023, would create offences of dog abduction and cat abduction. It also includes the power to make similar provisions for other pets.

While dogs and cats are now sentient beings under the law, there is not currently a specific offence for pet theft. Instead, as animals fall under the definition of property, the offence is treated similarly to stealing an inanimate object. I am concerned that, although sentencing can take into account the emotional impact on the human victim, the dog or cat’s financial worth is the biggest factor.

This means that the punishment does not come close to fitting the crime or to acting as a deterrent. Pets are invaluable members of our families: providing comfort, support and happiness. Pet theft is not a simple matter of theft of an item and nor should it be treated as such by the law.

I support this Bill, as well as measures to improve it, and I believe this must be done swiftly. I have long supported calls for a specific offence on pet theft. During the passage of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, I voted for an amendment that would have created such an offence, but it was disappointingly voted down by the Government.

Ministers had decided to create a new pet abduction offence in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill. However, that offence was predominantly about dog theft and the Government had only committed to considering widening its scope to include cats. Unfortunately, the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill has now been dropped by the Government.

It is extremely disappointing that this legislation has been dropped. It is, in my view, a profound setback for animal welfare in the UK with innocent animals suffering the consequences. I believe in honouring animal welfare, and I will continue to support efforts to push for the strongest animal welfare policies.

Black cat resting one of its front paws on railings
Black cat resting one of its front paws on railings
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