I share people’s concerns about the increasing number of pet thefts that are taking place across the UK. Pets are more than objects, they are members of the family. However, that is not how the law currently sees it.
Under the Theft Act, sentencing is determined by the monetary value of the pet, and does not take into account the fact that pets are living creatures that have been taken away from their homes.
This approach to pets is similar to the old approach to service dogs. Before the Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act 2019 (Finn’s Law) was passed, attacking service dogs was treated as criminal damage, but now it carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.
The Government eventually listened to campaigners and accepted the need for Finn’s Law. However, the Government has not yet accepted the need for changes to the Theft Act. Ministers made this clear in their response to the petition, with over 140,000 signatures, and in the Westminster Hall debate that took place on 19 October 2020.
Despite this, I hold out hope that Ministers will eventually accept the need for change in this area too. All we can do is keep raising this issue with the Government whenever possible and keep making the arguments that pets are far more than just objects.