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Specific Offence

Why we need change

Dog theft crime in the UK has been rising

The impact on the growing number of victims is devastating.

Driven by organised
crime


Some criminals see pet theft as a lucrative crime with minimal repercussions. 

Under the
Theft Act
1968


Pets are classified as property - a stolen Labrador is the same as a stolen laptop.

Dogs are
stolen to be resold or bred


Some criminals see pet theft as a lucrative crime with minimal repercussions. 

Only 1% of dog theft crimes prosecuted

If caught, the sentence for stealing pets is generally a small fine or suspended sentence.

Pet theft 
'specific offence'

The Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (Sampa) have been lobbying to make pet theft a specific offence since their launch in 2014. The aim: to access appropriate prison sentences; ensure sentencing is not informed by the monetary value of stolen pets; and recognise the emotional and welfare impacts of this crime on people and pets. 

Dr Daniel Allen's three government Pet Theft Reform petitions passed 100,000 signatures in three consecutive years (2018; 2019; 2020);​ and
an independent government petition to 'Make dog theft a specific criminal offence' passed 300,000 signatures in 2021.

Pet Theft Reform have campaigned for various routes to reform:

  1. Multiple calls to make changes to the Sentencing Guidelines were rejected by the Sentencing Council.
     

  2. The Pets (Theft) Bill 2018 reached second reading  in the House of Commons.   
     

  3. Three amendments regarding the issue of pet theft were not included in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.
     

  4. Pet abduction as a specific offence was included in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill (2021). The bill was dropped in May 2023.
     

  5. Dog Abduction (Scotland) Bill proposed (2022).

New offence announced
'pet abduction'

  • May 2021: the Government announces a Pet Theft Taskforce had been launched to investigate reported rise in pet thefts.
     

  • September 2021:  Following the recommendation of the Pet Theft Taskforce, the Government announces 'pet abduction' to be made into new criminal offence.
     

  • November 2021: The Government announces a new 'dog abduction' offence ("taking of pets") will be added to the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill.  

New offence included
Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill

Cats Protection MP drop-in

What could this mean for animals?

We need your help to make real change. 

"Pet Theft Reform is about family . With victims at the heart of the campaign, we recognise the importance of the human-animal bond, the devastating impact that animal abduction has on people and pets, and the need for pet abduction as a specific offence. Through evidence-based campaigning and collaboration, this cruel crime will be taken seriously."  - Dr. Daniel Allen

profile_john_cooperqc_edited.jpg

"Along with many others, I have been working for over 5 years to achieve this. For the first time in legal history, the law will acknowledge the special status of domestic animals and after centuries of treating them like property, grants them the status of sentient creatures, recognising their value to the millions of people who cherish them. Along with my work to bring about the Hunting Act to criminalise hunting, this will be an equally seminal moment for the protection of animals"

 - John Cooper QC

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