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New Act recognises true value of our beloved pets

Under the Pet Abduction Act 2024, those who steal dogs could face a prison term of up to five years.

A new criminal offence of “pet abduction” will come into force in August in England and Northern Ireland after legislation was pushed through on the final day of Parliament (see left). 

The Pet Abduction Act 2024 will make taking or detaining a dog a criminal offence. Currently, pets are considered in law to be property; therefore stealing a pet is covered by the Theft Act 1968. 

Under the new Act, anyone convicted of pet abduction could face a fine or up to five years in prison. 

Those who support the creation of the new offence said it would recognise the emotional impact caused by a pet being stolen, and would help build a better picture of the scale of pet theft. 

The Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (SAMPA) played a role in securing the new Act, based on an evidence from the Pet Theft Reform campaign founded by patron Dr Daniel Allen. “His work was supported by thousands of pet owners who signed petitions that led to the Parliamentary debates,” said SAMPA co-founder Debbie Matthews. “The new legislation gives the courts clear guidelines, which were lacking in the Theft Act, where pets were classified as property, second-hand goods like a mobile phone or a garden pot. Our pets are treated as members of our family, they are priceless and irreplaceable and now, at last, we have a law that reflects this.”