Government & Legislation

Gov brings forward Kept Animals Bill plans

The bill which was first introduced in September, will see offenders face up to five years in prison for dog abduction offences

The government has announced plans to bring forward a new criminal offence for pet abduction in its Kept Animals Bill.

The bill which was first introduced in September, will see offenders face up to five years in prison for dog abduction offences.

Prior to this new offence, pet theft was treated as a loss of property to the owner. This new offence will take into account the emotional distress caused to both the owner and the dog and will help judges’ ability to hand down more targeted penalties and sentences for pet thieves.

By introducing this offence, the government is following the recommendation of the Pet Theft Task Force, which was launched in May 2021 to tackle a reported rise in pet thefts during the pandemic.

Evidence showed that more than 2,000 incidents of pet theft were reported to the police last year.

George Eustice, environment secretary, 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.”

David Bowles, head of public affairs at the RSPCA, added: “The theft of a pet is devastating and we’re pleased the government has announced these amendments which we hope will act as a real deterrent to those who carry out this crime.

“While the current proposed law applies to dogs, we are really pleased to see the government has also recognised how much other animals mean to people as well, and put in provision to extend it to other pets. We hope this new law, which will see sentences up to five years, will help crackdown on the heart-breaking issue of pet theft.”

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