BY ALEXIA JAMES
This is the fifth year that this magazine has backed the campaign to increase sentences for those engaged in the wicked act of dog theft. Previous requests can be found here, here, here and here. A prospective Police Commissioner discusses the subject here.
Over four years ago I wrote:
I want You, the Reader, to consider the effect on the dog. On the dog? I hear You say. Dogs are dogs. How the hell are we supposed to know what they are thinking when they are stolen? Yes. On the dog. I want to draw your attention to a study by a psychologist. Not from some headline-grabbing, shabby university like London Metropolitan or De Montfort. From Harvard no less. A University that does not need to get into the business of clickbait to continue to justify its continued existence. The author is Dr Deirdre Barrett, a Clinical and Evolutionary Psychologist at Harvard Medical School. Last October, Barrett went public with her study on dogs and told People Magazine:
“Humans dream about the same things they’re interested in by day, though more visually and less logically. There’s no reason to think animals are any different. Since dogs are generally extremely attached to their human owners, it’s likely your dog is dreaming of your face, your smell and of pleasing or annoying you.”
The above has now been backed up by reports of owners getting their dogs back with eyes glazed over and distrusting of humans. The guilt experienced by these owners must be horrific. They must wish they could turn back time.
I am pleased to see that even the BBC are now all over the subject of dog theft, mentioning how we are now experiencing a lockdown epidemic of dog theft, how dog owners are scared to walk their dogs in public, and how organised crime has now got in on the stealing. They have even published a useful guide on how to prevent your dog being stolen.
But what on earth are the Government going to do about this epidemic?
For five years we have been receiving platitudes. Then just last month the Pet Task Force was established by the Tory Government and Home Secretary Priti Patel. Boris Johnson wrote about how:
Those “cynical and nasty enough” to steal pets as part of organised gangs will “almost certainly” be willing to commit other crimes. Ms Patel met with justice secretary and Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland and environment secretary George Eustice in March to discuss a “cross-government approach” to combat the issue, according to a government spokesperson. Mr Johnson lent the taskforce his support in The Mail, writing: “One crime type that has risen in prominence during the pandemic is, oddly, pet theft – mainly the stealing of dogs. At present, this crime is far too often dismissed as relatively trivial – on a par, say, with shoplifting. I don’t agree. That is why the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland has set up the Pet Theft Task Force, to make sure that the criminal justice system is dealing properly with anyone who is so malicious as to steal a dog. If you are cynical and nasty enough to steal a dog, in an organised gang, then you will almost certainly be party to other types of crime as well. Johnson added that he strongly believes in “the broken windows theory”: that a “ruthless” approach to crimes like dog theft – which causes “huge pain and grief to victims” – will help to stop “serious crime”.”
Those of us who have been calling for tough sentences for dog and cat thieves, as well as publishing of the faces and car registrations of those caught stealing, live in hope that something can now be done. People are still killing themselves over lost dogs and cats. Let’s also have a pet theft register – we should know who the culprits are and lock them away. They are wrecking human lives in severe ways which the law is still not reflecting.
If the pandemic has shown us one thing, it is that post-Brexit Britain has a heart and a team spirit. It is beyond time that we clubbed together to expose those dog and cat thieves who live amongst us. Better that the Government sorts the issue out than we start seeing dog and cat thief hunters – vigilantes, like the paedo hunters who so often step over the mark and cause the police stress.
Come on Boris! Sort this now.