As concerns about dog theft soar, new research highlights the failure to tackle a crime that is devastating 196 families every month in the UK
The Kennel Club says it’s discovered that only two per cent of cases in the UK have resulted in a criminal charge.
In Yorkshire and the Humber there were 271 dog thefts in 2020, but no criminal charges.
Its spokesperson has told YorkMix that it should treated like kidnapping as for animal lovers the effect on them is similar.
More than 500 dogs are estimated to have been stolen across the UK since the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce set up to tackle the issue in May, as the pandemic puppy surge led to growing dog theft fears
The Kennel Club’s Paw and Order: Dog Theft Reform campaign urges the Government’s new taskforce to improve the reporting and recording of the crime and to treat dog theft with more proportionate sentences.
‘Nothing petty about pet theft’
Bill Lambert, health, welfare and breeder services executive at The Kennel Club, said: “When a sentence is handed out it is often treated no more seriously than a petty crime, despite the fact that there is nothing ‘petty’ about pet theft.”
He says it’s terrible for people who have an animal stolen leaving them wondering what is happening to their pet and in reality it’s just like a family member has been kidnapped.
“The low charge rates and the paltry sentences are an almost open invitation to criminals looking to target innocent dog owners.
Mr Lambert continued: “Whilst most people will never be unfortunate enough to fall victim to this crime, those that do are left totally bereft but without a clear route to justice.
“We welcome the Government taking this issue seriously and hope that the Taskforce can deliver meaningful change that will give greater transparency in how we report and record this crime, and deliver more proportionate sentences that treat dog theft with the seriousness it deserves.”
The Kennel Club is calling for more resources to be allocated to fighting this crime and for more transparent, centralised collection of data about pet theft, including the number of crimes, arrests and convictions.
Currently, there is no central record in order to help decision makers understand the scale of the problem or the circumstances around it – for example, whether a theft was driven by opportunism or organised crime.
As part of its campaign, The Kennel Club has produced a downloadable template letter to help the pet-loving public to raise their concerns with their MP and spur Government to change the law.
The downloadable template letter, advice on preventing dog theft and further information on The Kennel Club’s campaign is available on the organisation’s website.