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Petitions Committee welcomes plan for legislation to tackle pet abduction in England

3 September 2021

Petitions Committee Chair Catherine McKinnell MP and committee member Tom Hunt MP have welcomed the Government’s plans to introduce legislation to make pet abduction an offence in England.

The Committee has had a long-standing interest in the issue of pet abduction. A petition started by Dr Daniel Allen in 2019 received over 117,000 signatures. In June 2020, Tom Hunt MP held a virtual meeting with Dr Allen and campaigners on the issue of pet abduction. The Committee then wrote to the Ministry of Justice, pressing the case for new legislation to be brought forward. The Lord Chancellor later replied to say the Government had no plans to introduce a new specific offence to deal with the theft of pets.

Tom Hunt MP then led a debate in Westminster Hall in October 2020, on a further petition calling for pet theft to be made a specific offence with a custodial sentence. That petition received over 143,000 signatures.

Following the announcement of the intention to bring forward new legislation in England, the Committee will continue to monitor the work the Government is doing to tackle this and related issues raised by petitioners, including proposals from the Pet Theft Task Force to improve access to pet microchip databases.

Chair's comments

Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee, comments: 

“The Government’s decision to make pet theft a specific criminal offence is hugely welcome, if overdue, and will be a great relief to the more than 400,000 people who have signed petitions on this issue since 2015.

“Given the heart-breaking increase in pet theft cases during the Covid-19 pandemic, this law must be brought forward without any further unnecessary delay.”

Tom Hunt MP, Member of the Petitions Committee, comments:

“I’m proud to have led the debate on this petition, and to have regularly put pressure on Ministers in the House on behalf of the many people and pets who have suffered.

“This is a testament to the determination of Dr Daniel Allen, Debbie Matthews and the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance who have campaigned for so long on this issue.

“As I remarked when I led the debate in Parliament, pets are irreplaceable members of the family. The Government must therefore ensure the sentences for this crime truly reflect the emotional distress the theft of a pet can cause.”

Further information

Image: Marliese Streefland on Unsplash