Cat and Dog Theft will be Criminal Offence from August in England and Northern Ireland

BBC News (24 May 2024)

A new criminal offence of “pet abduction” will come into force in August in England and Northern Ireland after legislation was pushed through on the final day of Parliament.

The Pet Abduction Bill is due to receive Royal Assent later, with the law due to come into force three months later.

It will make taking a cat, or taking or detaining a dog, a criminal offence.

Under the new law, anyone convicted could face a fine or a maximum of five years in prison.

Currently, pets are considered in law to be property and stealing a pet is covered by the 1968 Theft Act. The law is similar in Scotland.

Supporters of the creation of the new offence said it would recognise the emotional impact caused by a pet being stolen and would help build a better picture of the scale of pet theft.

Annabel Berdy, Senior Advocacy and Government Relations Officer for Cats Protection, said that a lack of specific legal protection for pets had allowed criminals “free rein to target much-loved animals for their own gain”.

She said the Pet Abduction law “could be one of the most significant animal welfare laws of recent times and will make a huge difference to many owners and their much-loved pets”.