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Dognappers could face five years in jail as pet thefts increase

People who steal family pets could face jail under Government proposals.

An offence of “dog abduction” is being added to the Kept Animals Bill currently going through Parliament.

Last year Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who owns a dog called Dilyn – promised a crackdown on offenders.


People who steal a family pet could face up to five years in prison.

Judges will be allowed to target penalties and sentences after considering the emotional distress caused to the dog and owner.

Previously, pet theft was seen as a loss of property to the owner – the same category as shoplifting.

Dognapping has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic; more than 2,000 incidents were reported to the police.

Also, as people sought companionship during the lockdown the price of designer dogs rose by thousands of pounds.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

“The loss of a much-loved pet causes unique distress. I am pleased that we are legislating to recognise this specific crime.

“The new dog abduction offence will reflect the impact on animals in penalties for criminals and deliver justice for victims.”

Chief veterinary officer Dr Christine Middlemiss said:

“The new offence should build greater awareness of the significant impacts of dog theft on people and animals, and reassure pet owners that these crimes are being taken seriously.”

And Paula Boyden, veterinary director at the Dogs Trust, said:

“Having your beloved pet stolen is an extremely stressful, often heart-breaking experience.

“For years, Dogs Trust has called for harsher penalties to deter those who profit from this despicable crime.

“We wholeheartedly welcome the measures the Government has taken today to tackle pet theft and prioritise the welfare of our pets as sentient beings, and very much hope that the increased sentencing will make pet thieves think twice.”



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