RSPCA urges Government to progress Kept Animals Bill as pet theft reports soar
The RSPCA today urged the Government not to drop the Kept Animals Bill - which includes action to tackle pet theft - as worrying new figures show reports of pet thefts soared last year.
The UK’s leading animal welfare charity has called on the Government to stick to its proposals to bring in a new Bill - which includes a whole host of measures to improve animal welfare in the UK - as fears mount that it is at risk of being dropped.
RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles said: “It is 18 weeks since the Bill was last discussed by MPs and we are concerned that the Government has deprioritised the Bill meaning it will run out of time to become law in this parliamentary session.
“Not only does this Bill include measures to tackle pet theft but it also includes crucial legislative change to end live exports of animals for slaughter, proposals to stop imports of dogs with cropped ears, crackdown on the importation of puppies and tougher regulation of people keeping primates as pets, all Government manifesto commitments.
“These are also hugely important for improving animal welfare and are issues the public care passionately about, as shown in the new polling that over 30 animal welfare groups sent to the Prime Minister this week.
“We call on the Government to make good on their promise and ensure the Kept Animals Bill is given the time to progress through parliament.”
Pet thefts soar by 25%
Figures collated by the Pet Theft Reform Group - led by Dr Daniel Allen - of FOIs from police forces across the country shows that the number of reports of pet thefts made to police have jumped by 25% over the last year.
RSPCA dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “It’s incredibly worrying to see figures that suggest the number of pet thefts reported to police have surged by at least 25% over the last year.
“Sadly, however, this is not surprising. During lockdown the demand for pets soared causing a huge jump in the value of pets, particularly dogs of certain popular breeds, and this seems to have caused an increase in dogs being stolen.
“The theft of a pet is an incredibly distressing experience - for both the pet and the owner - and we believe there should be strong sentences for these types of crimes that recognise that having a pet stolen is not like having a car or a TV stolen. Our pets are beloved family members and sentences for pet thieves should reflect the distress caused to pets and their owners when they’re taken.
“As a welfare charity we don’t deal with pet theft directly so we would urge anyone who suspects their pet has been stolen to report it to police immediately.”
In a bid to protect your pet from would-be thieves we would recommend:
Ensuring all pets are microchipped with up-to-date details registered;
Ensuring pets are wearing collars with contact details visible;
Never leaving a dog tied up outside a shop or alone in a car;
Ensuring your home and garden is secure with gates locked;
Ensuring your dog has a good recall and doesn’t stray too far when off-lead on walks;
Ensuring your pet is neutered and, therefore, less likely to stray or be a target for people looking to breed and sell puppies.
To find out more about the Kept Animals Bill and how it could improve animal welfare in the UK please visit www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/
To help the RSPCA continue its invaluable work rescuing and rehoming animals, investigating animal cruelty, and campaigning for change, please donate online: www.rspca.org.uk/give.