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CALL THE PURR-LICE: Cat and dog theft set to be made criminal offence

Pets are currently only considered property and any theft is covered by the 1968 Theft Act

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The government is expected to back making stealing cats and dogs a specific criminal offence in the United Kingdom, reports the BBC.

The new bill is being debated in the Commons today (19) and would create an offence of “pet abduction”.

Under the legislation, anyone convicted of the offence could face a fine or a maximum of five years in prison.

Ministers are said to be “very sympathetic” to the plan.

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Pets are currently only considered property and any theft is covered by the 1968 Theft Act.

The government promised to make the abduction of dogs a criminal offence in 2021, but no such legislation has yet been passed.

The Pet Abduction Bill is being brought forward by Conservative MP Anna Firth.

The Southend West MP told the BBC low prosecution rates made stealing a pet a “low-risk, high-reward crime”.

Pet abduction has been a key focus of public campaigns, which have resulted in five petitions since 2016, all triggering debates, as well as a presentation Bill and a Ten-Minute Rule Bill.

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The Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance is one of the groups that have been campaigning since 2014 to change how pet theft is treated in law.

Co-founder Debbie Matthews said: “If someone does happen to get caught, they usually just get a small fine, even if dogs are still missing.

“There is no punishment. It is seen as a low risk, high reward crime.

“Furthermore, the emotional impact of a pet being stolen is not recognised and most are not recovered.”

A second reading of the Bill will be debated in the Commons today.

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