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Pet Theft - Cat and Dog Theft set to be made a Criminal Offence and how Microchipping can Help Keep Your Pet Safe

The UK government has thrown its support behind a proposal to establish a specific criminal offense for stealing cats and dogs in England and Northern Ireland. On Friday, a bill introducing the offense of "pet abduction" successfully passed its first Commons stage without opposition.

If the legislation is enacted, individuals found guilty of pet abduction could face either a fine or a maximum prison sentence of five years. The bill is set to undergo further scrutiny from Members of Parliament (MPs) and peers, but with government backing, it stands a higher chance of becoming law.

Currently, the theft of pets falls under the purview of the 1968 Theft Act, treating animals as property in the eyes of the law. This legal framework is similarly applied in Scotland.

The government had previously pledged to criminalize the abduction of dogs in 2021, but no such legislation materialized. A comprehensive set of measures addressing animal welfare, including the criminalization of pet abduction, was initially included in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill. Unfortunately, ministers dropped this bill in May 2023, sparking criticism from advocacy groups.

Despite the setback, the government assured that the proposed measures would be reintroduced through alternative channels, such as private members' bills initiated by backbench MPs. The commitment to address pet theft stemmed from recommendations put forth by a pet theft taskforce, established to address rising concerns about dog theft during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Conservative MP Anna Firth championed the cause by introducing the Pet Abduction Bill. Firth, representing Southend West, emphasized the need for the legislation, pointing out the relatively low prosecution rates for pet theft. She characterized stealing a pet as a "low-risk, high-reward crime" and expressed disbelief at treating the loss of a living creature, a cherished member of families, as if it were a mere commodity like a power tool or a laptop.

The Role of Microchipping in Pet Theft:

Microchipping is an invaluable tool in the fight against pet theft. Unlike collars or tags, which can be easily removed or lost, a microchip provides a permanent form of identification. This makes it significantly more difficult for thieves to sell or transfer ownership of a stolen pet, as the chip cannot be tampered with or removed without veterinary assistance.

Pet Theft - Cat and Dog Theft set to be made a Criminal Offence and how Microchipping can Help Keep Your Pet Safe

Increasing the Chances of Reunion:

In the unfortunate event that a pet is stolen, a microchip significantly increases the chances of a reunion. It acts as a fail-safe, ensuring that even if collars are removed or tags are lost, there is still a reliable method of identifying and connecting with the pet's rightful owner.

Community and Law Enforcement Collaboration:

Microchipping becomes even more effective when there is collaboration between pet owners, communities, and law enforcement. Public awareness campaigns, combined with proper enforcement of pet theft laws, can deter potential thieves and create an environment where stolen pets are more likely to be identified and returned to their homes.


While we can never completely eliminate the risk of pet theft, microchipping provides a powerful deterrent and a crucial means of reuniting owners with their furry friends. As responsible pet owners, investing in this simple yet effective technology can offer peace of mind and significantly contribute to the well-being and safety of our beloved

We offer a pet microchipping service in Teesside. Please click here for more information

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