Skip to main content

Pet theft reform campaigners nominated for Petition Campaign of the Year Award

10 February 2022

Dr Daniel Allen, Freya Woodhall, Debbie Matthews, Dr Marc Abraham, Beverley Cuddy and John Cooper QC have been nominated for the Petition Campaign of the Year Award at the Your UK Parliament Awards.

The Petition Campaign of the Year Award celebrates the inspiring people who have used petitions started on Parliament’s petitions website to build support for their campaigns for change. This nomination follows their campaigning on pet theft reform.

Dr Daniel Allen, from Keele, started the petition “Make pet theft crime a specific offence with custodial sentences” in 2020, which received more than 143,000 signatures. This followed two earlier petitions, the first from 2018, which was signed by more than 107,000 people, and a second in 2019, which received over 117,000 signatures.

Dr Allen’s campaign was set up in collaboration with Debbie Matthews, CEO of the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance, and supported by a number of other animal rights campaigners, including: Dr Marc Abraham, founder of the Lucy’s Law campaign to end puppy farming; Freya Woodhall, whose dog Willow was stolen in 2018; Beverley Cuddy, Editor of Dogs Today Magazine; and John Cooper QC. The campaign has also secured support from celebrities including Ricky Gervais and Clare Balding.

A Parliamentary debate was held on two of Dr Allen’s petitions in October 2020. Ahead of the debate, campaigners took part in a virtual ‘roundtable’ with Tom Hunt MP, the Petitions Committee member who would be leading the debate, to discuss their concerns. Opening the debate, Mr Hunt backed the campaign’s call for a specific offence to be created, and for the relevant sentencing guidelines to be strengthened.

In May 2021, the Government launched its Pet Theft Taskforce to look into a reported rise in thefts, and Dr Allen was invited to give evidence. The Government then announced in September 2021 that it would make ‘pet abduction’ a specific criminal offence.

The Your UK Parliament Awards judging panel will select the winners shortly, and the full list of nominees and the winner will be announced in due course. The panel includes MPs, members of the House of Lords, campaigning bodies, and past Award winners.

The other nominees

  • Tim Brennan and Ian Smith, for their campaign calling on the Government to negotiate visa- and work permit-free EU travel for touring artists
  • Elaine Cunningham and Brian Mcelderry, for their campaign calling for commercial kitchens to be allowed to store inhalers for emergency use
  • Beckie Ramsay BEM, for her campaign to improve education about water safety in schools, particularly the risks associated with open water

Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee, comments

“These campaigns demonstrate so powerfully how petitions can raise awareness of issues that might otherwise struggle to be heard in Parliament.

“The nominees have each shown how to organise a successful campaign, building on their petitions by gathering support from others affected by the same issue, charities, influential supporters, and the wider public.

“I have been moved by our nominees’ passion, determination, and ideas for how to tackle the problems they’ve set their minds to, and congratulate them on their achievements.”

The Your UK Parliament Awards

The annual Your UK Parliament Awards recognise the individuals across the UK who have taken democratic action on the issues they care about. In addition to the Petitions Campaign of the Year Award, there are a further seven categories, which celebrate individuals, schools, and organisations who have made a difference in their communities and beyond.

Further Information

Image: Dan Allen