When you go back through British history, it’s all too often the Labour Party that has watered down a perfectly sensible law and replaced it with a rotten one that is not fit for purpose.
From the 1700s, dog theft was classed as a specific crime until the Theft Act 1968 when, under Harold Wilson’s Labour Government, the dog was relegated to chattel. Dog thieves were put on a par with thieves of lawn mowers and shopping trolleys. Labour do-gooders had reduced the crime of dog theft – in spite of the severe emotional implications for owners and dogs – to a slap on the wrist for perpetrators.
In spite of past errors, it was good to see a strong Labour contingent amongst the 40 MPs who attended the Dog Theft Awareness Day event at Portcullis House, Westminster last month. The campaign to have dog and pet theft recognised as a separate crime and have it associated with heftier punishments is one that Country Squire Magazine has been fighting since the magazine’s inception.
While we agree that the first step of any campaign should be awareness and we recognise that this campaign is a popular one which MPs will always be happy to be seen alongside, we must ask: What next?
There are many different groups (some linked to the sale of dog and cat-related products) associated with the campaign. The more the merrier? Or does a more focused, professional lobbying approach need to be taken? Where is the RSPCA in the campaign? Where are the other animal charities with professional lobbying outfits putting pressure on our lawmakers to force through change?
Meanwhile Britain is suffering from a proliferation of, in particular, dog theft. A 22.3% rise in dog theft reports in two years. Five thousand stolen dogs since 2013. Do our lawmakers really not understand the amount of emotional damage the dog theft is doing to Brits? Why are numbers increasing under their watch?
The status quo is unacceptable. The Government’s position is unacceptable.
These law changes will be a simple win for either Labour or the Conservatives. Liz Truss has been informed, Dominic Raab knows the situation, as do other Tory MPs. What does Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Richard Burgon have to say about the matter? How about Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Justice Jonathan Marks?
Still, our lawmakers fail to see dog and pet theft as a crime perpetrated against humans. That is what it is.
Now, wake up lawmakers and reverse the ridiculous dilution of dog theft punishment before it is with us for fifty shameful years.