Underworld gangs stealing and selling dogs bred in 'appalling cruelty'

3 September 2021, 08:19 | Updated: 3 September 2021, 09:11

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Justice Secretary has told LBC plans to crack down on pet theft will take into account the emotional distress offences cause.

Pet abduction is be made a criminal offence under government plans to crack down on dognappers.

Ministers want to change the law so it reflects the severity of the crimes carried out by pet thieves by taking into account the emotional distress it can cause the animal and acknowledging they represent far more than just property to their owners.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said a new offence of "pet abduction" would be created.

Explaining that pets were far more than just property, Mr Buckland said the offences impacted the owners and the animals.

Nick Ferrari asked the Lord Chancellor if it was correct that criminal gangs were involved in organised pet theft rings.

"There is money to be made sadly from the taking of dogs and their resale," Mr Buckland said as he admitted Nick was correct.

He warned there was an "underworld" in relation to the selling of dogs and gangs passing off dogs that have been bred in conditions of "appalling cruelty" as pedigree animals.

Pet theft is not a specific crime and is currently considered as a loss of property to owners under the Theft Act 1968.

The new offence would recognise animal companions as sentient beings.

Although offences under the Theft Act carry a maximum term of seven years, ministers have acknowledged there is scant evidence of that being used because the severity of the sentence is partly determined by the monetary value of the item taken.