Calls to create a specific crime for stealing a pet are to be considered for a debate in Parliament.
An online petition to change the law and possibly allow for harsher sentences has now passed 100,000 signatures – the threshold for automatic consideration for debate.
Dr Daniel Allen, who started the petition, said: “We have reached our 100,000 target!
“Every signature and every share made this happen.
“#PetTheftReform is one step closer. Thank you.”
Theft of a pet is currently dealt with under the Theft Act 1968, with the monetary value of a pet affecting the sentencing.
READ MORE: Britain experiences steep rise in pet theft
The text of the petition said: “Reclassify the theft of a pet to a specific crime in its own right.
“Review the sentencing guidelines for theft offences, so that where the theft of a family pet is involved, monetary value is irrelevant for the categorisation of the crime for sentencing purposes.
“Ensure Police Forces are given appropriate guidance and training to record and investigate cases.”
After the petition reached 10,000 signatures, a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said: “We understand the distress caused by the theft of a much loved family pet and laws are in place to deal firmly with offenders who commit such crimes.
“Theft of a pet is already a criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968. The maximum penalty is seven years’ imprisonment. The Sentencing Council updated its guidelines in relation to sentencing for theft offences in February 2016.
“The guidelines take account of the emotional distress and therefore harm that theft of personal items such as a pet can have on the victim and accordingly recommends higher penalties for such offences.
“Compulsory microchipping introduced in 2016 makes it easier for lost or stolen dogs to be reunited with their owners.”
Do you think the law should be changed?
What do you think? Have you been affected by pet theft?.
Email your views to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please state where you live.