Pet abduction is to be made a criminal offence in England due to a rise in thefts since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Figures show that last year was the worst ever for dog theft in England, with the RSPCA urging dog owners to take extra precautions to protect their pets. In total, 2000 pets were reported stolen last year, and this new offence will acknowledge the distress this can cause to owners.
The proposed new law is part of a series of recommendations from a taskforce of government officials, police, prosecutors, and local authorities, which was created in response to the rise in pet theft seen over the last 18 months. The taskforce has also recommended additional information should be required when registering a microchip, especially when transferring ownership, and there should be better collection and recording of data on pet thefts.
Currently, theft of a pet is classed as a loss of an owner’s property under the Theft Act 1968. Offences committed under the act lead to a maximum term of seven years, but there is little evidence of that being used, due to the severity of the sentence being partly determined by the financial value of the item taken. Ministers want the new law to acknowledge the emotional distress pet theft can cause by creating a separate offence.
Here at Aquarium we think this is great news – we are pet owners ourselves. This means that we understand the special bond people have with their pets and the suffering theft can cause. Hopefully the new laws greatly reduce pet theft in England and the rise in unnecessary suffering of both pets and owners affected by pet abductions.
This news is also a timely reminder to pet owners to think about whether they have the right insurance cover for them and their pet. It is worth checking existing policies to see if they cover theft, which most do, and if so, how much cover they offer and what this includes. For example, does a given policy include advertising costs? Having the right policy cover in place that includes provisions for pet theft is a key consideration for all pet owners. Losing a pet is a terrible experience but having the right cover can help to mitigate the huge impact of the stress and loss incurred.