Paw justice: new figures show scale of dog theft and “jaw dropping” failure to tackle the crime - Veterinary Practice
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Paw justice: new figures show scale of dog theft and “jaw dropping” failure to tackle the crime

New statistics show that a staggering 98 percent of dog theft criminals are never charged, and in more than half of cases a suspect is never identified

concerns about dog theft soar following the surge in pandemic puppy buying, new
research shows a shocking failure to tackle a crime that is devastating 196
families every month, with only two percent of cases in 2020 resulting in a
criminal charge.

statistics, gathered by The Kennel Club through Freedom of Information requests
to the 45 police forces in the UK to which 36 responded, show that there were
an estimated 2,355 cases of dog theft in 2020, which is a 7 percent increase
on 2019 (2,199). This amounts to more than 196 dogs being stolen, to the
heartbreak of their owners, every single month.

based on the 27 police forces that provided data for dog theft case outcomes in
2020, only two percent of all dog theft cases in the UK led to a suspect being
charged. These were almost entirely brought in by the Metropolitan Police (nine
percent of all cases dealt with by the force) and Cheshire Constabulary (two
percent of all cases dealt with by the force).

2020, no suspect was identified in more than half (54 percent) of reported dog
theft cases and three percent of cases were dismissed as not being in the
public interest. In more than a quarter (27 percent), a suspect was identified
but nothing further was done due to “evidential difficulties”.

statistics are revealed 79 days after the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce was
established on 8 May 2021 to help tackle the issue – in which time another 508 dogs
have been stolen. The Kennel Club is urging more transparent recording of pet
theft on a central database, so that underlying causes of dog theft can be
tackled, and for the emotional value of dogs to be recognised in sentencing.

theft has devastating consequences for both the owners and the pets involved
and it is quite frankly jaw dropping that 98 percent of cases never result in
a criminal charge, and in more than half no suspect is ever identified,” said
Bill Lambert, Health, Welfare and Breeder Services Executive at The Kennel

only that, but when a suspect is found and sentenced, dog theft is often
treated no more seriously than a petty crime, despite the fact that there is
nothing ‘petty’ about pet theft.

thankfully most people will never be unfortunate enough to fall victim to this
crime, those that do are left totally bereft but without a clear route to
justice. We welcome the Government taking this issue seriously and hope that
the Taskforce can deliver meaningful change in England and Wales; giving
greater transparency in how we report and record this crime, and delivering more
proportionate sentences that treat dog theft with the seriousness it deserves.
This is needed across the UK – from the Scottish Government and Northern Irish
Executive too.”

the actions being called for as part of The Kennel Club’s ”Paw and Order: Dog
Theft Reform“
campaign is for more resources to be allocated to this crime and
for more transparent, centralised collection of data about pet theft, including
the number of crimes, arrests and convictions. Currently, there is no central
record in order to help decision-makers understand the scale of the problem or
the circumstances around it – for example, whether a theft was driven by
opportunism or organised crime.

Kennel Club is also calling for a reclassification of how dog theft is treated
in the law, as currently sentences place undue weighting on the monetary value
of the pet rather than giving sufficient weight to the emotional impact of the
crime. This means it is often treated in the same way as the theft of a laptop
or mobile phone, rather than as a category one offence, which carries a maximum
of seven years in prison in England and Wales.

owners are reminded that they are unlikely to fall victim to this crime but
there are steps they can take to help keep their dogs safe.

Bill continued:
“There are steps that people can take to help protect their dogs. A dog should
never be left unsupervised, whether out and about or at home in the garden, and
it should have a reliable recall, so that you can always be in control of its
whereabouts. It’s important that all dogs are microchipped, and that their
details are kept up to date with their microchip database, and that information
about your dog, such as its value or your address, isn’t shared with

join the “Paw and Order: Dog Theft Reform” campaign in calling for pet theft
provisions to be revised to take into account a dog’s role within their family
and the devastation caused by the crime, The Kennel Club has produced a
downloadable template letter to help the pet-loving public to raise their
concerns with their MP and spur Government to change the law.

downloadable template letter, advice on preventing dog theft and further
information on the campaign is available on the organisation’s website.


region that is the dog theft hotspot is the North West, with 335 dogs stolen in
2020, accounting for 14 percent of all dog thefts. This is followed by London,
with 318, accounting for 14 percent of all dog thefts, and the South East with
304 (13 percent of all thefts).

police force with the single greatest number of reported dog thefts in 2020 was
the Metropolitan Police (318), followed by West Yorkshire (121), Kent (117),
Lancashire (98) and Northumbria (97).

regions in which police are least likely to identify a suspect are the North
East, with no suspect in 66 percent of cases in 2020, followed by Wales (63
percent) and the South East (62 percent). The police forces least likely to
identify a suspect in 2020 were Northamptonshire (77 percent) and Dyfed Powys
(70 percent).

When a
suspect was identified, charges were only brought against a suspect by three
forces in 2020: the Metropolitan Police, Cheshire Constabulary and Kent Police,
accounting for 9 percent, 2 percent and 1 percent of all dog theft cases in
those forces, respectively.

2020, a suspect was most likely to be identified but further action stopped due
to evidential difficulties in the East Midlands (36
percent), the East of England (35 percent) and Yorkshire and Humber (34 percent).

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