Dog owners and animal welfare organisations are celebrating a new law which introduces a specific criminal offence for pet theft.

Under the Pet Abduction Bill, sponsored by Anna Firth MP, individuals found guilty of stealing a pet will face up to five years in prison, a fine, or both. The Bill successfully passed its final stage in the House of Lords on 24 May and will soon become law.

Dr Ed Hayes, Head of Public Affairs at The Kennel Club, commented, “We’re thrilled that this important Bill – which introduces a new and specific offence to tackle pet theft – will become law. We applaud the hard and persistent work of every organisation and individual who has been raising awareness of this issue and calling for action for many years.”

Recognising the Emotional Impact of Pet Theft

The Kennel Club is one of many organisations who have long campaigned alongside grassroots groups for tougher sentencing for pet theft, arguing that the crime should be treated more seriously than the theft of an inanimate object, such as a mobile phone. Dr Hayes highlighted the emotional harm inflicted on victims, stating, “This new law is desperately needed to ensure that sentencing provisions reflect a dog’s sentience and their role within their family, as well as fully taking into account the emotional harm inflicted on the victims of this crime.”

The Kennel Club’s ‘Paw and Order’ campaign, launched after the lockdown, urged action to address pet theft and encouraged thousands of dog lovers across the UK to write to their MPs. Statistics from the campaign revealed that nearly 200 families are affected by dog theft each month, yet only two per cent of cases in 2020 resulted in a criminal charge.

The Kennel Club has also advocated for sentencing that recognises the emotional value of a dog and for improved reporting and recording of pet theft cases by officials. This approach aims to tackle the underlying causes of dog theft more effectively.