Government taskforce set up to stop pet theft

Last updated at 07:32
Dog and catGetty Images
Animal welfare charity PDSA said in 2020 there were 10.1 million pet dogs and 10.9 million pet cats in the UK

A government taskforce has been set up to try and stop pets getting stolen.

Charity DogLost, which helps victims of dog theft, says it saw an 170 percent increase in dogs being taken, from 170 dogs reported stolen in 2019 to 465 in 2020.

The taskforce will be made up of officials from government departments, police and animal welfare groups and experts. They will look at the problem and try to find solutions and present their findings by autumn this year.

Stealing a pet is against the law. It is a criminal offence under the Theft Act 1968 and anyone found guilty of pet theft could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

Although the numbers have increased, getting a pet stolen is still pretty rare.

However it can be very upsetting for people who have had it happen to them.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "Having callous thieves steal a much-loved pet is heart-breaking for families and it is deplorable that criminals seek to profit from this cruel crime."

Dog and catAnadolu Agency

The UK's most sought after dog breeds increased in value over the first lockdown, according to charity, Dogs Trust. These include dachshunds, chow chows, English bulldogs and pugs.

Some reports suggest that this increase in price for dogs is part of the reason there have been more thefts as criminals think they can get a lot of money for the dogs they steal.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: "Pet owners shouldn't live in fear so we've set up this taskforce to thoroughly investigate the issue and ensure that we have the measures in place to stop these criminals in their tracks."

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