How many dogs are stolen in the UK and what does the law say?

Raising awareness of dog thefts

How many dogs are stolen in the UK and what does the law say about dog theft?

It is every pet owner’s worst fear. The thought of our beloved pets being stolen from us doesn’t bear thinking about but is a nightmare that more and more pet owners have had to endure over the last year.

When is Dog Theft Awareness Day?

Dog Theft Awareness Day takes place on March 14th. Dog Theft Awareness Day is an annual event to alert pet owners about the worrying number of dogs that are stolen every year. Organised by the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (SAMPA), the first Dog Theft Awareness Day was first held in parliament in 2017.

Is dog theft a crime?

Currently, dog theft is a crime under the Theft Act 1968 and is treated as a loss of property for the dog owner. The severity of sentencing pet thieves depends on the value of the dog. Dog thieves can be sentenced to a maximum of seven years under the current laws.

A new Animal Welfare Bill is currently being passed through the Commons which would mean that pet theft will be classed as an offence in its own right. Pet owners have demanded a change in the current legislation which reflects the emotional distress that dog theft causes to those affected.

What will the new law do to tackle dog theft?

Westminster Parliament House of Commons

A new Animal Welfare Bill is being discussed in parliament which will change how dog theft is prosecuted.

Under the proposed changes, the government will introduce a new ‘pet abduction’ offence which will mean that pet theft is no longer treated as loss of property. Instead, the new purpose-made law show that our pets mean far more to us than property.

The new ‘pet abduction’ offence will also look to make identifying and tracking cases of pet theft easier by introducing new microchipping requirements for dogs. These changes will also include more details on the owner being registered on a dog’s microchip.

Has there been a rise in the number of dog thefts?

Following a number of high-profile thefts from dog owners such as Lady Gaga and Daniel Sturridge, there has been a reported rise in the number of dog thefts. Demand for puppies and dogs reached unprecedented levels, with Google searches for ‘buy a puppy’ seeing a 160% increase as the nation went into lockdown. With so many households wanting to get their hands on new puppies, the average cost of a dog more than doubled last year.

According to data from police forces in England and Wales, there was a 3.5% increase in the number of reported dog thefts in 2020. Since the March 2020 lockdown, Dog Lost, the largest lost and found service in the UK, claimed 2020 was the ‘worst year ever known’ for stolen dogs.

How many dogs are stolen in the UK?

It’s thought that around 2,000 dogs are stolen in the UK every single year. That’s 5 dogs that are taken from their owners every day.

Of those recorded cases, around 70% of pet thefts involve dogs.