CSM DOG THEFT CAMPAIGN
Dear Lord Chancellor, The Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP,
Dog & Pet Theft
During the time of the Coalition Government a petition calling for tougher penalties for dog and pet thieves received tens of thousands of signatures. The petition called for stronger and tougher pet theft legislation to increase the punishment to those involved in the theft of a dog, cat, rabbit, aviary-bird or horse. It requested that pets and horses be legally regarded as living members of the family and not as objects or property. It sought pet theft punishment set somewhere between kidnapping and the theft of property or an object. That the personal value of a pet be set at a much higher level than its saleable value. It also called for a mandatory prison sentence punishment for anyone who steals pets with the purpose of extracting a ransom, or seeking reward for the safe return of those animals, or with the intention of harming the pet or with the intention of not returning it to its rightful owner. Finally, it requested the wish for the police and courts to have tougher and stronger powers and to prioritise the theft of pets over the theft of objects.
In response, the Coalition Government of the time replied:
The Government takes all crime, including the theft of a pet, very seriously, recognising that it can cause a great deal of distress to those owners whose pets are stolen. However, the Government does not believe it is necessary to create a new offence in order to do this, as such behaviour is already criminal. The theft of a dog constitutes a criminal offence under section 1 of the Theft Act, 1968 and asking for money for its return could constitute blackmail under section 21 of that Act. When sentencing, the court would take into account the particular harm caused to the owner, in addition to all the other relevant circumstances of the offence. Furthermore, anyone who steals and mistreats a pet could be in breach of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 of which the maximum penalty is a fine of £20,000 and/or 6 months’ imprisonment. For those reasons, the Government has no plans to introduce separate offences of dog theft or dog kidnapping.
On December 6th 2016, Country Squire Magazine launched its campaign against dog theft in the UK. We published a heartbreaking article by Charles Guthrie called Time to Stop Dog Theft. It hit a chord. It was read by many thousands and we received many emails and messages of support for taking our stance against dog theft.
Amongst the messages we received was a scanned note from a girl called Chrissie. Chrissie is 7 years old. The transcript of Chrissie’s message reads:
Dear Country Squire,
A man stole my dog Lola from our garden. I live with my mum in Yeovil. My brother Tom and me are very upset. Tom is 10 and he is searching each day for Lola on the computer. Lola is 7 like me. I told Tom that if Lola dies then I will die. Mum says I should not cry. But Mum cries and Tom cries too. Please help us. Or I will die soon.
Love, Chrissie x
We fully understand how law-makers need a cool head and often have to detach themselves from Britons like Chrissie, who are experiencing a living hell because their pets have been stolen. By a living hell, we are talking about her thoughts every hour of every day relating to fears about her pet dog Lola being used as bait in dog fighting and the lack of security she now feels herself at home due to Lola’s theft. When she should be thinking about school, cupcake dolls and her upcoming birthday.
We also understand how many of your law-makers are city dwellers who work all day and do not have the time or space for pets in their London flats. We understand how they’re just not getting this pain, are they?
We urge you, Lord Chancellor, to assemble all the law-makers who deal with dog and pet theft. We will arrange for you all a special day when you can come and meet face to face the victims of dog theft who have written to us. You will be able to hear first-hand accounts of the daily torture they go through because existing legislation to counter dog and pet theft in the UK is not fit for purpose – existing legislation does not prevent the crime, which is growing.
Please do not dismiss us as animal rights nuts. We have the solicitor for the Countryside Alliance as our chief writer! We are level-headed and we fully understand where these people, across the length and breadth of our country, are coming from.
The Coalition Government was at times a necessary concession. We address you now as a representative of the governing Conservative Party – the party which, above all, respects individual freedoms and has a history of clamping down on criminality and injustice in the United Kingdom. Even though you do not need the poll advantages these days, surely you can appeal to your better selves and welcome the hero’s embrace you will get from pet lovers across this land – the vast majority of the UK population – when you tighten the laws in this area?
We trust you, Lord Chancellor, to make the necessary changes. They will be welcomed across both houses. You will be cheered across Britain.
It is time to stop dog theft. It is time to stop pet theft. It is time that, for once in many generations, the Government listened to its pet-loving people and came down like a ton of bricks on the rotten perpetrators of these crimes – these thieves of innocence, who do mental damage to some of the most vulnerable in our society; elderly pet owners, children grieving at their loss and their parents who cannot shift the dark clouds hovering over their families due to the theft of their beloved family pets. We are not over-egging the reality to say that Britons have died from broken hearts due to this crime; either because of failing health or suicide following theft.
Surely now you understand, Lord Chancellor?
Enough is enough. It’s time to stop the pain.
You must have the empathy to help these desperate people. It is the people not the animals that you will be helping most. You have a chance to end their suffering.
Please, Lord Chancellor, press the button on change now and let’s show the world how civilised we can be. We will shout legislation changes from the rooftop and become your biggest fans.
Country Squire Magazine