My Visit to Parliament – Dog Theft Awareness Day

As I was drinking my now-cold cappuccino at my local coffee shop early in the morning, an email notification popped up on the bottom right hand corner of my screen. An invitation to Parliament to discuss the rise in dog theft across the UK. Despite my initial excitement at the thought of going to Parliament, my heart sank a little at the prospect that dog theft has now become a national concern.

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My original invitation

Unfortunately it’s a topic that is not new to me, during my travels over the years I have heard stories and met victims of this thoughtless crime.  I wanted to touch up on my knowledge of the subject and as I was reading the statistics through sources such as BBC, Dog Lost and pettheft.co.uk I was startled and shocked to see the increase within the last few years.

The late British philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell once said in 1959, “When you are studying any matter, or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only what are the facts and what is the truth that the facts bear out.” This quote is always at the back of my mind when I do any research and it happens to be one of my favourites.

So lets look at the facts;

  • Incidents of dog theft have risen 24% in the last 3 years
  • Over 50% of dogs that are stolen are taken from gardens
  • More than 5,000 dogs were stolen between 2013-2016
  • Hotspots include London & Manchester
  • Breeds most at risk include Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Pugs, French Bull Terriers and other ‘designer breeds’

Sources: BBC News, Telegraph, The Mirror

Why are people stealing them? It’s is an area that hasn’t been explored much in the media. There are a number of reasons and it can depend on the breed and age of the dog. Here are a few examples;

  • Stealing puppies and selling them off, quite often at well over £2,000 per puppy
  • Stealing dogs to bait for dog fighting
  • Breeding them at unregulated puppy farms
  • Some occasions they can be used for ransom for a large sum of money
The Impact of Dog Theft

Then you look at the victims, www.pettheft.co.uk have produced useful case studies and they are rather self explanatory. The consistent theme I found is that a missing or stolen pet can devastate families, and many loyal dog owners will appreciate that the dog is an extended member of the family. Within the space of a few minutes, they are taken away leaving only despair and a sense of huge loss. Meeting the victims in Parliament, one lady was explaining her story to me and I could tell she was trying very hard to hold the tears in despite the incident happening years ago.

You may notice that I have been referring to dogs in terms of ‘them’ whereas British law views a dog as a ‘it’, and that’s part of the problem. Stealing a dog in the eyes of the British law is no different than the theft of someone’s mobile phone.

Within the space of a few minutes, they are taken away leaving only despair and a sense of huge loss

The penalties are very light and so they create very little deterrent or punishment among criminals. If one gets caught, convicted and ordered to pay costs for the value of the dog, the ‘value’ of a domestic dog not used for professional use can be in the region of £70-£300. It sounds incredible when you put it in those terms. This needs to be changed and that’s what the Dog Theft awareness day was about.

When I arrived at Parliament the room was gratifyingly busy, throughout the day MPs from various constituencies came in to show their support. It wasn’t only MPs however, there were charities and organisations such as Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Dog Lost and Agria Insurance coming in to show their support.

The event was set up by Stolen & Missing Pets Alliance and Gareth Johnson MP who is the Conservative MP for Dartford. I thank them both for raising this at the heart of British politics. It was in fact the first time this issue has ever been raised within the Houses of Parliament and I was honoured to be a part of it.

Dog Theft Awareness Day

 

 

We have highlighted this issue and it was a constructive first step in tackling this it but much more needs to be done. What is the next step? What would you do or propose to tackle the rise in dog theft?

As always, feel free to leave a comment below, email me or tweet me @MarkRWalden

2 thoughts on “My Visit to Parliament – Dog Theft Awareness Day

    1. Hi Carole, thanks for the comment. The ‘official’ statistics are difficult to obtain as many are not accounted for that are recovered privately or a number of different charities or organisations. Dogs recovered solely from dog theft are extremely low and I know only a few cases of dogs actually being recovered to their original owner. They also get mixed in with the statistics found as strays, in relation to strays, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home conducted a surveys of 50 UK Local Authories and the statistics sadly speak for themselves – https://www.battersea.org.uk/about-us/press/press-releases/microchipping-where-it-matters-most-battersea-reveals-only-1-5-lost

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