Marc Jones welcomed the announcement that a new law will recognise pets are valued as more than property following a reported rise in pet thefts during the pandemic.
The new offence is one of several recommendations in a report published by the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce which was launched in May 2021.
The report found that seven in ten of the animal thefts recorded by the police involve dogs. Evidence suggests that around 2,000 dog theft crimes were reported to police in 2020, causing considerable distress for owners and their pets alike.
The Taskforce’s recommendations include:
* The creation of a new ‘pet abduction’ offence. The new offence will prioritise the welfare of our pets as sentient beings and recognise the emotional distress to the animal in addition to its owner.
* Identifying and tracking cases. Reliable data on pet theft is limited and improved data collection about these crimes will build a stronger evidence base about the problem
* Improving the recording of ownership and transfer data. New requirements to register additional details to microchipping databases will support tracking lost and stolen dogs.
Last year Mr Jones promoted a survey about dog theft that attracted 15,000 responses from the East Midlands region that revealed 79 per cent of people had grown more fearful of taking their dog for a walk during the day.
Mr Jones said he was delighted the Government had listened to public concerns and were introducing tough new measures.
“The report has set out some very positive new measures that will reassure the many thousands of pet owners who were increasingly worried about this growing crime,” he said.
“The Government is to be congratulated for its detailed and positive response to this issue and I will be talking to senior officers at the force to see how we can best implement these new recommendations.”
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Pets are much loved members of the family in households up and down the country, and reports of a rise in pet theft have been worrying. Pet owners shouldn’t have to live in fear, and I am pleased this report acknowledges the unique distress caused by this crime.
“The recommendations will reassure pet owners, help the police to tackle pet theft, and deliver justice for victims.”