13 March 2025
Pet Abduction

I fully recognise the devastating impact that the theft of a pet can have on both the pet and families. In response to concerns about a perceived increase in pet theft during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched the Pet Theft Taskforce in May 2021. The taskforce’s findings and recommendations, published in September 2021, included the creation of a specific offence.

I am aware that the Pet Abduction Bill, introduced by my colleague Anna Firth MP, would introduce a new criminal offence in relation to the theft of a dog or a cat. I know that the Government supported the Bill during its Second Reading, and I will support this Bill when it returns to the House.

More widely, Defra has been making improvements to the cat and dog microchipping regime in England in line with the taskforce’s recommendations. This includes introducing legislation last year to extend compulsory microchipping to include cats, as well as dogs. This increases the likelihood of lost or stolen pets being reunited with their owner. In addition, police forces are working together to better coordinate and share best practice and advice on the steps owners can take to protect their pets.

The Animal Welfare (Import of Dogs, Cats and Ferrets) Bill, sponsored by Selaine Saxby, seeks to tackle the unlawful dog, cat, and ferret smuggling trade. The Bill aims to introduce stringent measures to regulate the import of the titled pets, ensuring their health and safety during transportation and deterring illegal trade practices. Its Second Reading is scheduled for Friday 15th March. I am supportive of the ambitions of the Bill and will follow any developments relating to this Bill closely.