South Warwickshire dog rescue centre calls for pet theft to become a specific crime - The Leamington Observer

South Warwickshire dog rescue centre calls for pet theft to become a specific crime

A DOG rescue centre in south Warwickshire is adding its voice to calls to make pet theft a specific crime.

Pet theft is reported to be on the increase in the UK. According to a recent report by Direct Line, 2,290 dogs were stolen across the UK in 2023, a six per cent increase on 2022.

However, despite the very distressing nature of having a dog stolen, pet theft is not a specific crime.

Currently, the crime of stealing a dog is treated in the same way as the theft of household items such as phones and bikes, without considering the huge emotional impact losing a pet has on families and individuals.

For many years, Dogs Trust has called for harsher penalties to deter those who profit from the theft of dogs.

And to mark Dogs Theft Awareness Day, the Kenilworth branch has renewed its call for pet theft to become a crime in its own right.

Earlier this year, a Private Members Bill, that has cross-party support, received its second reading in the Houses of Parliament. If successful, this would see pet theft become a specific offence.

Dogs Trust Kenilworth has also issued guidance to owners in a bid to prevent much loved dogs from being separated from their families.

This includes that dog owners ensure their house and property boundaries are secure, that they keep an eye on their dog when they are in the garden and never leaving them unsupervised, and do not post pictures of their dog on social media.

Dog owners should also keep their dog in sight and pay attention to what they are doing when out exercising and never leave their dog unattended in a public place or in a car – even if it’s just for a minute.

Owners should also make sure their dog is searchable in case the worst should happen – such as ensuring it is wearing an ID tag and is microchipped.

Dogs Trust spokesperson Maria Murray said: “Having your beloved pet stolen is an extremely stressful, often heart-breaking experience. For many owners, pets are members of the family, and being separated from them, without knowing where they are, is devastating.

“It’s disappointing to hear that pet theft is on the rise, but by following a few simple tips, you can reduce the chances of this despicable crime happening to you. Never leave your dog unattended, especially in a public area, and if you are walking them off lead, always keep them in sight. You should also be careful with what details you share online about your canine companions.

“Not only is it a legal requirement for your dog to be microchipped and to wear an ID tag while out in public, but these two simple steps will also help to get your dog home to you as quickly as possible if the worst does happen.”

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