Dáil to consider increasing penalties for dog theft

Dáil to consider increasing penalties for dog theft

Lisa, Bernard, and Lis Ahern with their springer spaniel Ruby who was stolen from their home in Midleton, Co Cork last June, but was recovered by the British Police after Ruby was but up for sale in the UK.  Picture: Dan Linehan

A motion will be considered in the Dáil on Wednesday to increase the criminal penalties for those who steal companion pets.

This comes after a rise in dog thefts since the lockdown began back in March.

244 dogs were reported stolen in 2020, an increase of 16% on 2019 when only 205 dogs or pets were reported stolen.

The figures are approximate as they are based off descriptions on the garda PULSE system.

The Regional Group of TDs is calling for the government to use a new bill currently before the Oireachtas, the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Bill 2020, to change the law surrounding pet theft.

TD Denis Naughten, who is a member of the regional group, says under current law pets are considered property, and their theft is treated in the same manner as the theft of a mobile phone.

“We all know that pets are much more than property, they are very much part of a family in homes across our country; sometimes the only friend to someone who is isolated, the guide for someone who is blind or has other sensory issues, and this needs to be clearly reflected in much stronger legislation,” says Mr Naughten.

Last year Gardaí received 14 reports a day of an animal being lost or stolen, a practice that is a heart-breaking experience for their owners.

“We flagged this proposal last November and have been engaging with Minister James Browne who has a particular interest in this area, as has our colleague Peadar Toibin TD who is in the process of publishing his own legislation."

Mr Naughten also said the group is seeking support from the public. 

"Without the person buying these animals, there would be no demand for criminals to steal them in the first place."

The TD added that people who are buying animals should make sure they are microchipped, and they should check the details on the chip before they buy the pet.

“All dogs over 12 weeks old are supposed to be microchipped.”

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