Thank you for writing to me about pet theft.
I would be pleased to attend the APPG event on cats and pet theft on 14th March 2023 if my diary allows.
The theft of a much-loved pet causes emotional trauma and impacts pet owners and families. The Government launched a Pet Theft Taskforce in May 2021 in response to concerns about a perceived increase in pet theft.
While it is already a criminal offence to steal a pet, the emotional impact of having a pet stolen, on both the owner and the animal, is undeniable. The Pet Theft Taskforce recommended a new offence of pet abduction, reflecting the fact that pets are not just property. A purpose-made offence for pet theft will ensure that those who steal pets are punished accordingly.
This new offence would also recognise the potential impact on the pet’s welfare when taken by strangers. The offence as currently drafted in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill focuses on dogs, with enabling powers. The inclusion of the enabling powers means that the Secretary of State would be able to extend the offence to other animals, such as cats. I am aware that this Bill is due to return to the House as soon as parliamentary time allows.
Finally, microchipping for dogs became compulsory for animals over eight weeks of age in Great Britain in 2016. The Government announced that it would introduce compulsory microchipping of cats. These changes will make it easier for pets to be reunited with their owners if they have gone missing or been stolen.
Thank you again for writing to me about these matters.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking