Fresh call to make pet theft specific offence in law

  • A renewed call for the Government to crack down on pet theft by making it a specific offence have been made following the return of five stolen basset hounds.

    The two and a half couple hounds were stolen from the Westerby Bassets’ kennels in Leicestershire in February and were found this month. Arrests have been made and a police investigation continues.

    The Countryside Alliance (CA), which has pushed to raise awareness of pet and working dog thefts in the past, has issued a fresh call for authorities to crack down on dog thieves.

    Writing in his blog on Friday (9 April), CA chief executive Tim Bonner said the case highlights the issue at a time when a “huge rise in demand for pets” has resulted in their financial value increasing significantly.

    “One proposal for tackling pet theft comes from Ipswich MP Tom Hunt who was previously with the Alliance,” he added.

    “Tom is promoting proposals that the Government should make pet theft a specific offence which would allow judges to hand out two-year prison sentences.

    “There is definitely logic in arguing that the impact of pet theft cannot simply be judged on the monetary value of the animal involved.

    “Emotional attachment cannot be measured in pounds and pence and the most devastating part of pet theft is the removal of a much-loved animal from its family rather than the financial consequences of replacing it. We hope the Government thinks carefully about Tom’s proposal and considers any other policies to tackle the theft of dogs and other pets. In the meantime, please make sure that you keep your dogs safe.”

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    In 2020, H&H reported on petitions and calls for pet theft to be a specific offence, which garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures and led to parliamentary debate, but resulted in no change to the law.

    Mr Hunt then wrote to the Sentencing Council for England and Wales in February, lobbying them to amend sentencing guidelines for pet theft, which was rejected.

    He raised the subject again in March, speaking during business questions to ask for a debate on pet theft, with a particular focus on increased sentencing, and is working with other MPs to push the issue further in parliament.

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