This week I joined forces with the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (SAMPA) to host the first ever Dog Theft Awareness Day.
Dog theft is a cruel crime which causes great distress to owners and their dogs.
My event, which featured speakers from Kent Police, victims of dog theft, representatives from charities, as well as Marc the Vet and Paul Ross, was well supported.
Last year I wrote to police forces across England and Wales asking them to provide data on dog theft and the number of dogs recovered.
Of the statistics I received from the police, it was revealed that there have been more than 5,000 incidents of dog theft recorded in England and Wales since 2011. However, it was reported that just 12% of dogs were returned to their owners. Kent Police has a good record of recovery – of the 471 dogs stolen, 98 were returned to their owners.
At the moment there is no specific crime of dog theft and so if it does reach court, a well-loved dog which is a family member, is treated like any other chattel such as a TV or mobile phone. Some forces do record the theft as dog theft, whereas others are not as specific.
To this end, I have been lobbying for tougher sentencing guidelines for dog theft in the hope the threat of imprisonment will act as a deterrent to criminals.
This week’s event has raised this serious issue and I will continue to fight this cause in a bid to help people affected by this nasty crime.