Given my professional background as a veterinary surgeon you will appreciate that this is an issue close to my heart so I very much appreciate your concerns. I will never turn my back on animals and their welfare. Pet theft is a hideous and distressing crime and must be stamped out urgently. I firmly believe we need to tackle pet theft and this must be done as a priority in Legislation. The reason I voted in the way I did in the Police Bill is that I and colleagues have made direct representations to the Justice Secretary on this issue, and we have been given assurances that the Government will address Pet Theft in legislation through an alternative mechanism to this particular well-intentioned amendment.
I am really pleased that this is moving forward now with a firm commitment from Government:
The Government has been clear that it is concerned by reports in the media of the rise in pet theft and Ministers are keen to take action. The Ministry of Justice has joined forces with Defra and Home Office to create a joint Taskforce to look at pet theft end-to-end and to consider every aspect from prevention, reporting, enforcement and prosecution and Ministers will make clear recommendations on tackling this problem.
The Taskforce is taking evidence from stakeholders and experts in the relevant fields including researchers, campaign groups and animal welfare organisations. They have now reported, and by the autumn Ministers will begin working on the implementation of the approved policy recommendations.
The theft of a pet is a criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968 with a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment. Depending on the circumstances in which the pet is stolen it could be charged as a dwelling burglary where the maximum penalty is fourteen years’ imprisonment or robbery which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
As the MP for Penrith and The Border, I have championed animal welfare. It is an issue that is very close to my heart and I take it very seriously. If you are interested in the work I have done then please take a look at my website: www.neilhudson.org.uk/campaigns/animal-welfare
As a veterinary surgeon, I am passionate about animal welfare. In the United Kingdom, we have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, but we can always do more. I am strongly in favour of proposals to increase sentencing in cases of animal cruelty, and measures to improve the welfare of farm and companion animals.
As part of my ongoing ‘Animal Welfare’ campaign I will continue to fight for high animal welfare standards and protecting against animal cruelty.