A petition by The Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance regarding pet theft in the UK has reached over 100,000 signatures for the third year in a row.
The petition demands that theft of pets be reclassified, amid a dramatic increase in dog theft across the country due to the escalating price of puppies, according to the country’s leading pet unification organisation Dog Lost.
Earlier in July, in response to the petitions committe’s letter following the 2019 petition, the Secretary of State for Justice said that stealing a pet is already a criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968, for which the maximum penalty is seven years’ imprisonment.
Arnot Wilson, campaigner of the Stolen & Missing Pets Alliance (SAMPA) said: “This increase in theft is set to continue because of the new legislation on breeding and welfare together with charities encouraging the adoption of dogs from rescue centres and the absence of tougher penalties for pet theft.
‘‘Until the law is rectified I am afraid it’s no longer to lock up your daughters but lock up your dogs.”
Dr Daniel Allen, animal geographer at Keele University and author of the three successful petitions, said: “The seven years’ imprisonment is totally misleading even the Government agree that the penalty to use their words ‘is largely theoretical unless there are other aggravating circumstances’ so in practice it will never be applied.
‘‘As the sentencing guidelines currently stand, it will be impossible to secure a custodial sentence for most pet thefts because of the benchmark value of £500. Reality is, a custodial sentence is unlikely to apply unless it is a secondary offence used to justify and bolster a harsh primary sentence.’’
He added: ‘‘This has to be changed and with the Government accepting “pets are sentient beings and more than just property” then it can not be beyond their means to reclassify pets into a category of their own as is the case for motor vehicles and bicycles.
“This change would give courts access to appropriate custodial sentences which would act as a deterrent and provide a punishment that reflects the impact of the crime.”