To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the report by Pet Theft Awareness The Cat Theft Report 2022, published on 20 March; and what steps they will take to tackle pet abduction.
In response to concerns about a perceived increase in pet theft during Covid restrictions, the Government set up the Pet Theft Taskforce to investigate. The Taskforce gathered, researched and commissioned work to build a clear evidence base of the issue and worked with police, law enforcement, and experts to formulate recommendations. Since publication of the report, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice continue to work together to implement the Taskforce’s recommendations and take into account new evidence, including the Cat Theft Report 2022.
The Taskforce's recommendations included the creation of a new 'pet abduction' offence to recognise that pets are not mere items of property and to recognise the potential impact on their welfare when they are taken by strangers. The offence as currently drafted in the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill focuses on dogs, with enabling powers. The inclusion of the enabling powers means that the Secretary of State will be able to extend the offence to other species of companion animal in the future by making regulations.
The Government listened closely to views expressed on this issue during its Commons Committee stage, in particular whether cats should also be included with dogs at the outset, and the Government is currently considering this issue carefully.
The Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill completed its Commons Committee Stage in November and following the passing of a carryover motion by the House on 25 April 2022, will continue its passage in the next Session. The Bill will be reintroduced in the third session in the form in which it was suspended and go straight to Report stage in the House of Commons before continuing its passage in the House of Lords.