Pet Theft DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Mohammad YasinMain Page: Mohammad Yasin (Labour) - Bedford)
(2 years, 3 months ago)Westminster Hall
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. He goes to the heart of the debate on many of those issues. I know that
Dogs are stolen outside shops and from cars, and while they are out exercising, on or off the lead. Nowhere is safe for unattended dogs. Owners of bulldogs, pugs, French bulldogs and chihuahuas, for example, have been stalked on walks. Some have had to fight off an attacker who is trying to snatch their dog, or have later been a victim of a home invasion where the only thing stolen was their dog.
Cats are being increasingly targeted. In 2016, 261 cats were reported as stolen to police forces—an increase of 40% on 2014. However, a 2017 study revealed that 360,000 adults believed their cat had been stolen in the past 12 months. SAMPA believes those figures only scratch the surface, as police forces record this crime differently across the country and theft by finding is never recorded in police figures. Everyone assumes it will not happen to them, but no one is safe from this devastating crime.
My hon. Friend goes to the heart of the problem. Hopefully, all those listening from a parliamentary perspective will join him in urging everybody to push for that outcome.
People do not steal pets to love them. They use them, abuse them and treat them like inanimate objects. There are many heartbreaking stories. Pepsi, a 12-year-old cat from my constituency of Hartlepool, was brutally killed by lampers. Zeena, a Staffordshire bull terrier, was stolen from her family and forced to fight for her life in a dog-fighting ring. She was reunited with her family, carrying the scars of appalling injuries, four years later. Ella, a terrier, was kicked so hard by a dog thief that she died from her injuries. Ivy, a cocker spaniel, was stolen from her home and found dead the next morning. She had been dumped by the side of a road, having suffered serious dog bites and bruising. Bentley, a cocker spaniel, was stolen from his bed in West Yorkshire with five other cocker spaniels. Bentley died, as thieves gouged out his microchip, leading to a brain infection. The other five spaniels remain missing. Kemo joined the whole family when Olly had cancer. With the love and support of Kemo, Olly was able to gain the strength to beat cancer. Kemo was stolen in February 2018 and remains missing. In all those cases, the thieves have not been apprehended.
Pet theft rips the heart out of families and wrecks lives. It also serves as a gateway to wider animal cruelty and extortion. Despite that, pet theft is currently seen as no different from the theft of an inanimate object. The theft of a labrador is treated like the theft of a laptop. Potential pet thieves are fast learning that the chance of ever being caught is tiny. Even if they are caught, the chance of a custodial sentence or a substantial fine is incredibly slim.