Good news for pet owners, as of the 19th of January 2024, the Government has announced their backing of the legislation to make to make the abduction of cats and dogs a specific criminal offence in Northern Ireland and England.

This new bill, sponsored by Anna Firth MP, would mean that stealing pets would no longer come under the 1968 Theft Act which views our beloved household animals as inanimate objects, rather as living beings with ability to feel distress when put in traumatising situations, such as being stolen from their families.

Although this is great news, we must keep in mind that there will still be criticism from MPs and peers and that it was in 2021 when the government promised to make dog abduction a specific criminal offence and yet they are only announcing the sport of the bill in 2024. Despite this, government backing means that this law is very likely to go through.

The low prosecution rates for those convicted of stealing pets makes some view it as a “low-risk, high-reward crime” as, Anna Firth, an MP who is backing the bill and sponsoring it, has stated. Firth told parliament that she finds it “unbelievable that we treat the loss of a living creature, a member of our family as if it is a power tool or laptop.”

This is a sentiment that many pet owners nationwide share. Hopefully with the new bill coming into the light, the rates of stolen pets will drop, and pet owners will be put at ease knowing that there are consequences in place.