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Ministers told to toughen pet theft laws to end ‘light touch sentences’

Under current laws dogs and cats are treated the same as a ‘mobile phone or TV’.

Ministers have been urged to toughen laws around pet theft to end “light touch sentences”.

Tory Ross Thomson told MPs that under current legislation dogs were treated the same as a “mobile phone or TV” and if stolen courts could merely give “a slap on the wrist”.

Mr Thomson, proposing his Pets (Theft) Bill, argued there was a need for a separate criminal offence of pet theft — giving greater sentencing powers and acting as a greater deterrent.

The Aberdeen South MP, moving his Bill via a 10-minute rule motion, said: “As it stands the law does not properly recognise the real harm that pet theft can cause, because pets are not inherently treated differently to inanimate objects.

“In England and Wales sentencing guidelines are based primarily around the financial value of the possession, whether it be a mobile phone, TV or a beloved family pet.

“Victims of pet theft have not just lost a financial asset they’ve lost a much loved members of the family, pet theft can be truly devastating and distressing experience, losing a pet can tear the heart out of a family and that is what the law should but doesn’t recognise.”

He added: “This situation has also led to light touch sentences for pet thieves who have reeked havoc on victims lives.

“In England and Wales the theft of dog at less than £500 can only be classed as a category three or four which invariably means a slap on the wrist, a slap on the wrist for pet thieves is a slap in the face for victims of pet theft.”

Mr Thomson said his Bill would give “peace of mind” to the 12 million UK households that own a pet.

His Bill was listed for a second reading on October 26 but is unlikely to become law in its current form without government support or sufficient parliamentary time.

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