Pet thieves face tougher sentences in a move welcomed by the Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne.
Mrs Bourne was a key member of the Pet Theft Taskforce which was set up in response to growing concern about people stealing dogs.
She said that it was good news that those who abduct dogs now faced up to five years behind bars under the Kept Animals Bill.
An amendment to the bill, she said, properly reflected the emotional distress caused by pet theft and followed recommendations made by the Pet Theft Taskforce.
Before this new offence, pet theft was treated merely as a loss of property to the owner which, she said, completely undermined the sense of loss and grief experienced.
Mrs Bourne said: “I’m delighted that the government has recognised the extreme distress, grief and sense of loss that pet theft can cause to both owners and their dogs with this amendment.
“In a landmark survey, which I conducted earlier this year, 87 per cent of respondents disagreed with the current classification of pets as mere property and wanted to see much harsher sentencing.
“Pets are a much-loved member of the family and the amendment to the Kept Animals Bill now reflects the lasting emotional impact that their theft can have.
“It also sends a strong message to thieves that they could face up to five years in prison.”
LIKE WHAT WE DO? HELP US TO DO MORE OF IT BY DONATING HERE.