CHESHIRE police and crime commissioner David Keane is calling for punishments for dog thieves to be reviewed following a rise in dog thefts during lockdown.
A public consultation has highlighted that pet owners are now more worried about taking their dog for a walk than they were last year, while the UK’s largest lost and found dog service, Dog Lost, estimates that thefts have risen by 250 per cent across the country.
A total of 124,729 people took part in the national survey, including 10,006 from the North West.
More than 96 per cent agreed that dog theft is a serious issue, while 65 per cent admitted that they’re more fearful of taking their dog for a walk than they were last year.
In addition, almost 87 per cent agreed that the current top sentence of seven years for theft of a companion animal should be reviewed.
Mr Keane has committed to working with the government to discuss a change in legislation and tougher punishments for dog thieves and hopes that the results of the survey will go some way to achieving this.
He said: “We are a community of animal lovers here in Cheshire and our pets play a huge role in our family and home lives. This has only intensified during the pandemic, when for those living alone, their pet has been the only company they have had during the last year.
“We all know the heartbreak caused by the loss of a pet, but when criminal activity is involved that pain is even worse and causes untold stress to the owner and their family.
“That is why I remain committed to working with the government to call for tougher legislation as I feel the penalties for dog thefts do not reflect the seriousness of the crime, with offenders very rarely receiving the maximum seven-year jail term.
“Thanks to the consultation, we know how important this issue is to the public and now is the right time to discuss what more we can do to deter these criminals from targeting our pets.
“By working with Cheshire Police and other PCCs nationally, I hope we can not only reduce the fear that residents have for their pets, but also tackle the number of animal thefts moving forward.”