The petition to ‘Reclassify the theft of a pet to a specific crime in its own right’ which gained 107,353 signatures and was debated in Parliament on 2 July 2018 was delivered to 10 Downing Street on Tuesday 10 September.
The creator of the petition, Dr Daniel Allen, animal geographer of Keele University went to the prime minister’s residence with members of the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (SAMPA) and their legal advisor, John Cooper, QC.
Also in attendance was Ross Thomson, MP for South Aberdeen, whose bill on pet theft is due to have its second reading on 26 October. He said wanted to “see the law tightened up” and make pet theft a “serious, criminal and punishable offence” which recognised the status and importance of pets.
Dr Allen said: “Five dogs are reported stolen in England and Wales every day, yet less than five percent of dog theft cases lead to a custodial sentence. Criminals see pet theft as a low-risk high-reward crime. Pet Theft Reform is the only way to change this. The law is simply not geared up to recognise the importance of pets in the nation’s life.
“They are treated like property, and the invaluable contribution they make to millions of peoples of lives both practically and emotionally really needs to be acknowledged through a harsher sentencing regime.”
Debbie Matthews, chair of SAMPA, added: “The government interpretation is positive, but that is not happening in the courts. We continue to ask for clarification within the Theft Act and wonder why a simple amendment in the Sentencing Guidelines is not forthcoming. Pet Theft Reform is needed to help protect our pets.”