Dog Theft on the Increase after Brexit

Dogs Zooming! – Source: Author

Dog theft campaigners are calling on pets and their owners to participate in the world’s first ever DogZoom event to kick-start the national “Pet Theft Awareness Week” on 14th March. Hosted by Emma Kennedy with surprise video messages from celebrities and politicians.

Last year, I noticed a sudden increase on my local social media posts about dogs being stolen which motivated me to start investigating what was going on. The more I learnt the more horrified I became. I am an animal lover and dog owner and a seasoned campaigner, so I decided to launch a campaign in Wiltshire as it was clear the police were not taking pet theft seriously.

So I joined forces with other – long established – pet theft campaigns. When plans for an outdoor event for Pet Theft Awareness Week were thwarted by Lockdown Three, I was inspired to do a virtual dog rally.

Incidents of pet theft are increasing every day because the lockdown has driven demand for pet ownership which has in turn made the cost of pets soar. The law is inadequate and for criminals pet napping is low risk with big dividends as some breeds are now reaching £2,000 to £3,000 per dog. Dogs are stolen to breed from in puppy farms, but they are also sold on the internet with heart rendering tales which are fabricated.

The law is letting us down. The theft of a pet in the eyes of the law is the same as stealing a low value household item. Bicycle theft has more priority of pet theft as the police are required to keep a record of the numbers of bicycles stolen. If your house is burgled and the dog stolen, there is no requirement for the police to record this heart breaking crime.

We need the Government to change the law. And we need the public to be more informed when making choices to own a pet. Add to that we need to inform pet owners on steps they can take to protect themselves from criminals.

After a theft in Yorkshire, Colin Butcher, from private agency The Pet Detectives, said that about 12 dogs are being stolen each day in the UK. He said lockdown restrictions meant breeders and puppies were being targeted by “specialist dog thieves”.

“That’s primarily because they can’t restock their breeding store from overseas, from Ireland or from Europe. So they are stealing stud dogs to replenish their own breeding stock.”

Join us to hear real life experiences from victims of pet theft, advice from experts on how to protect your pets, ways you can get involved and help make a change and there’s messages from surprise, pet-loving celebrities and politicians too.

In conjunction with the Stolen and Missing Pet Alliance (SAMPA) and DogLost, we are calling for Pet Theft Reform. The current law is inadequate and there is currently no separate category for pet theft in the 1968 Theft Act.

Are pets really just property?

Pets are seen as property or a possession that can be easily be replaced. We disagree with this; our pets are irreplaceable and valued members of our families. They are loved, cherished, unique sentient beings.

Pet theft is currently treated the same way as having your mobile phone or laptop stolen. It can be difficult for owners to obtain a crime reference number and the theft is seldom investigated.

If caught, pet thieves are normally given a small fine and – at best – a suspended sentence. There is currently no deterrent.

Prevention and advice is top of the agenda while explaining why we need tougher laws to act as a deterrent to protect our dogs and all domestic pets. 

No one is safe from this crime, which hits families and the elderly.  The loss of a companion and family member is devastating. 

SAMPA has been campaigning since 2014 for a simple amendment to the Theft Act, to include a separate definition for our domestic pets.  We need #PetTheftReform to give courts access to appropriate custodial sentences to act as a deterrent, provide punishment, and protect the public.

Over the last four years, we have seen Dog Theft cases increase but 2020 surpassed any expectations, with demands for dogs increasing during Covid lockdown. Co-founders of SAMPA, Doglost (the UK’s largest lost and found dog service), saw a 170% increase on their 2019 figures.

The Government is taking action!

Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, has met with members of SAMPA and said to ITV News in February 2021 that he wants to ‘Make pet theft a specific criminal offence’.

Home Secretary Priti Patel speaking to the BBC (also in February) said that she was: “building up the case for making pet theft into a serious offence” and called the rise in dog thefts “absolutely shocking“.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, presenting Jayne Hayes, founder of Doglost and co-founder of SAMPA, with a Points of Light award on 17 February 2021 said:

“Let’s have a look at what we can do to increase sentencing for Dog Theft, losing a dog is a terrible thing”

So if you care about protecting our pets and you’re concerned about the increase in pet theft, join us for the World’s first ever DogZoom event.  All your pets are welcome.
Please book tickets here.

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