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Stealing pet dogs can land you in jail for five years in UK

Prior to this new offence, pet theft was treated as a loss of property to the owner in Britain

People who steal pets can be put behind bars for up to five years in Britain according to a new offence added by the United Kingdom government in its 'Kept Animals Bill' on Wednesday to crack down on dog theft.

Prior to this new offence, pet theft was treated as a loss of property to the owner in Britain. This new offence will take into account the emotional distress caused to both the owner and the dog and will help judges' ability to hand down more targeted penalties and sentences for pet thieves.

A provision will also be made in the Bill to extend the offence to other pets in the future.

By introducing this offence, the Boris Johnson government is following the recommendation of the Pet Theft Taskforce, launched in May 2021 to tackle a reported rise in pet thefts during the pandemic.

Evidence showed that more than 2,000 incidents of pet theft were reported to the police last year, causing considerable distress for owners and their pets alike. For crimes recorded by police in which animals are stolen, around seven in 10 involve dogs.

"The loss of a much-loved pet causes unique distress. I am pleased that we are legislating to recognise this specific crime," said UK's Environment Secretary George Eustice.

Since 2010, the UK government has brought in mandatory microchipping for dogs to help reunite lost dogs with their owners, introduced additional protection for service animals through ‘Finn’s Law’, and introduced Lucy’s Law to tackle puppy farming by banning the commercial third-party sales of puppies and kittens.

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