A spokesperson from Katy Bourne’s office said the amendment to the Kept Animals Bill properly reflects the emotional distress caused by pet theft and follows recommendations made by the pet theft taskforce.
Prior to this new offence, pet theft was treated as a loss of property to the owner, according to the spokesperson.
The police and crime commissioner said, “I’m delighted that the Government has recognised the extreme distress, grief and sense of loss that pet theft can cause to both owners and their dogs with this amendment.
“In a landmark survey, which I conducted earlier this year, 87 per cent of respondents disagreed with the current classification of pets as mere property and wanted to see much harsher sentencing.
“Pets are a much-loved member of the family and the amendment to the Kept Animals Bill now reflects the lasting emotional impact that their theft can have.
“It also sends a strong message to thieves that they could face up to five years in prison.”