Rachel has welcomed the launch of the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce to investigate the recent reported rise in pet theft.

With sales platforms reporting a considerable rise in puppy and kitten prices over the course of the past year following more people deciding to buy or adopt a pet, recent reports have suggested that this may be leading to a rise in pet thefts.

According to Dogs Trust, the price for five of the UK’s most sought-after breeds grew significantly during the first lockdown with the price of some breeds rising by as much as 89%.

Google searches for ‘buy a puppy’ increased by 166% in the months between March and August following the start of lockdown last year.

The new taskforce has been set up to gather evidence to understand the factors that may be contributing to any perceived rise in thefts and to recommend any necessary measures to tackle the problem. The Taskforce will learn lessons from successes in tackling other types of theft, such as mobile phone or metal theft, and how to clamp down most effectively on this illegal market and those engaged in it.

Stealing a pet is already a criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968, with offenders facing a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. If someone causes an animal to suffer in the cause of stealing it from its owner, then they are also liable to prosecution for offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The taskforce will be made up of government officials from Defra, Home Office and Ministry of Justice as well as the police. Animal welfare groups and experts in relevant fields will also be involved.

The Pet Theft Taskforce will:

  • work with police, law enforcement, and experts to understand and tackle pet theft
  • consider the issue from end to end, including causes, prevention, reporting, enforcement and prosecution.
  • make clear and timely recommendations on ways to reduce pet theft.

Rachel said: “As the owner of two rescue dogs, I know just how protective pet owners are of their four-legged friends. They are an integral part of the family and bring joy to people’s lives. I’d be lost without my two dogs.

“No one should live in fear of pet theft and so I’m very pleased to see the Government tackling this cruel crime and clamping down on perpetrators.

“We must do everything we can to combat the driving forces behind this distressing crime and put measures in place to stop these criminals in their tracks.”