I have long been a campaigner on animal welfare, particularly in relation to dog theft, where I campaigned for tougher sentences for years. I was delighted to support the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act which came into law in 2021 and brought in tougher sentences for animal cruelty. I also supported the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act 2019, otherwise known as Finn’s Law. In addition, I was delighted to host the first ever Dog Theft Awareness Day at an event in Parliament and I have a long association with the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (SAMPRA). More recently, I am a registered supporter of the Pet Abduction Bill which has been introduced as a Private Members' Bill by my colleague, Anna Firth MP and which has now passed its second reading.
As a dog owner for the last 25 years, I am also delighted the Government is backing this Private Members' Bill which will see anyone found guilty of stealing a pet, face imprisonment, a fine, or both.
Evidence from the Pet Theft Taskforce suggests that around 2,000 dog theft and over 400 cat theft crimes were reported to police in 2020, causing considerable distress for owners and their pets alike. With an estimated 28% of UK adults owning a dog and 24% owning a cat, pet theft is a major concern to the public.
This vital Bill will recognise the severity of this crime and should act as a deterrent to anyone considering stealing a dog or a cat.
The photo above is my dog Rufus, who I adopted from the Dogs Trust in August 2023.