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Can you help make the Pet Theft Debate successful?

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Why are so many pets like me being stolen

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Pet Theft is being debated in parliament on Monday October 19th 2020 You ll be able to watch online on the UK Parliament YouTube channel Can you make sure your MP attends and knows why it s so vital Here s the brief that we want every MP to have seen ahead of Monday can you make sure your MP sees it and knows how much you care It will mean much more if it comes from someone in their constituency The final page has a link for you to find their contact details www stolenandmissingpetsalliance co uk

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The virus isn t the only thing spreading in the pandemic Please take part in the debate You can help fix this

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Criminals are finding stealing pets increasingly attractive

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Pet thieves currently make P many thousands of pounds without any real risk of losing their liberty

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If any other member of our family were kidnapped there would be significant consequences

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There is currently no mention of pets in the Theft Act

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In th the eyes of the he law a aw they are just possessions e ar ey essions like any other li er

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But I am one of the family

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Pet theft is treated like having a phone or wallet stolen

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Pet theft is seldom investigated It s often hard for owners to even get a crime reference number

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If there is a miracle if a pet thief is caught they just get a small fine even when the stolen pets aren t recovered

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The crooks usually walk away from court with at best a suspended sentence

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This is no deterrent

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Pet Theft is a criminal s dream A high reward very low risk crime

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Pet Theft is a pet s nightmare Fern was a young much loved pet when she was stolen

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Six years later a kind man stopped his car and bundled in an old neglected dog He took the abandoned bewildered dog to the vet

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The vet scanned and found a microchip and checked the database it was Fern It was a miracle Two of the kids weren t even born when the beloved family dog was stolen

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What had Fern endured

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She had been used as a breeding slave for six years until her exhausted body was too weak to be profitable

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Like her scars the memories of darker days will fade We had our past stolen but the future is ours So many pets are still out there missing So many owners holding a blanket a lead a favourite toy just to feel close again Fern s owner

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Pet theft is out of control and the impact on the growing numbers of victims is devastating

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Yet the Minister of Justice recently told the 143 633 people who signed this latest petition that we don t need any better deterrents

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The Minister of Justice said you can get 7 years in prison for Pet Theft

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Sadly it s not true we wish it was

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Only CATEGORY ONE crimes are eligible for that maximum 7 year term

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So what is a CATEGORY ONE theft

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It s being caught stealing very high value goods worth more than 100 000

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Or it could also be someone stealing property worth more than 10 ooo if they harm the victim or a member of the public

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While our pet s purchase price is often relatively small they soon become priceless They are irreplaceable and the crooks exploit this

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Rescue dogs like Dilyn cost very few pounds but of course that purchase price doesn t reflect his true value

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We recently surveyed pet owners and they told us that they valued their best friends more than all their other possessions added together

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It is obvious the law needs to change to reflect the importance of pets in modern society

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That s why we are back asking parliament for better deterrents We won t ever stop

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until Pet Theft is made unattractive to criminals

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Why is the law so out of step

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When dogs mainly worked herding guarding or helping us catch dinner they had a significant financial value

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After the Industrial Revolution dogs looked destined for unemployment As our lives became more complex we often moved away from our relatives and had different needs

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Pets saw the gap and became part of our extended family sharing our lives and sofas The emotional bond is powerful For example research shows the loss of a cat can be a huge trigger for suicide in young men

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Sarah Wayland lecturer at the Faculty of Health Science at the University of Sydney works with families with long term missing members Dr Wayland says the first 10 to 15 years are the worst spent worrying and wondering

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Wanting to know where they were hoping they were safe when it was raining outside Dr Wayland says

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We know of families suffering decades after a pet theft The lack of closure makes it impossible to grieve

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The impact on the victims of this crime is immense We are told emotional impact is included in the Theft Act but it definitely isn t happening

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The punishment doesn t fit the crime The loss of an inanimate object is very different

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Desperate people have borrowed thousands of pounds to pay ransoms They are employing people claiming to be private pet detectives Many have suffered at the hands of cruel hoaxers and scammers

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We know of at least one pet owner who remortgaged their home so they could offer a bigger reward The victims lose faith in law and order Often it s the first time they needed help and they feel badly let down by the system The pet is forever vulnerable their pain never goes away

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During lockdown the love of pets became even more significant and pet prices skyrocketed as people craved companionship Rising prices and increased demand for pups attracted more organised crime

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82 dogs have been recovered from this site as part of Operation Medusa It raised false hopes for very many that their pet could be among those recovered We hear that the crooks have been charged for higher tariff offences not lowly pet theft

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I am sure you agree there is a growing problem with pet theft What can you do to help

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Please make Pet Theft a specific offence The Theft Act already mentions cars bicycles even mushrooms

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What happened when scrap metal became better protected

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In 2013 an Act was introduced to deter the theft of metal it was very disruptive to the railways particularly The Act reduced incidences of scrap metal theft from nearly 62 000 in 2012 13 to approximately 16 000 in 2015 16 Source UK government metal theft statistics 2018

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Despite so many pet theft reform 100k petitions and very positive passionate parliamentary debates PetTheftReform still hasn t happened

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It was devastating when SKY was stolen 5 years ago Sky s still the first thing Mick thinks of every morning A stolen smart phone would be long forgotten Press button for Sky s Info

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Nine years ago Rags was stolen Would the minister tell owner Caroline Key we don t need better deterrents for this lifechanging crime She says It hurts like it happened yesterday feels like a lifetime of hope and despair Press button for Rags info

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Bulk thefts from puppy farmers are pretty much the only thefts which ever result in an investigation But even these very organised crimes have been given the lightest possible sentences

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In June 2018 a gang of four was tried at Lincoln Crown Court

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They pleaded guilty to stealing 15 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

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including one who was pregnant

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They rejected one of the dogs as it was too old The poor dog was found on the side of a motorway having been thrown from a moving vehicle

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It was the only dog ever seen again

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If you were the judge what sentence would you think appropriate

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RECAP 15 Cavaliers stolen by an organised gang One old dog thrown from a car NO OTHER DOGS EVER RECOVERED

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If ever there was a case for the 7 year maximum that the Minister mentioned surely this was it

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The gang walked out of court free as a bird Theyy ggot suspended sentences p Thee stolen dogs were NEVER seen ag again

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If this case didn t trigger any jail time what hope is there of a meaningful deterrent for the theft of a single beloved pet

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The exact same court was not so lenient when scrap metal was stolen

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Relatives of the Cavalier gang got 12 years for stealing scrap metal at the same court

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Deterrents work but pet theft doesn t yet have any We protect metal but not pets

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All the charities All the stake holders All the pet owners And there are 51 MILLION pets in Britain EVERYONE wants Pet Theft deterrents

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And please don t say microchips will help Want to know why

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Why don t chips work

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There are major flaws with the current compulsory microchipping system

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There are now an astonishing microchip databases on the government approved list

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BVA President Daniella dos Santos The microchip system as a whole is not fit for purpose There are so many holes and gaps And anybody can start up another database and there isn t enough regulation It is very complicated and it is a broken system I think it is really important that we put pressure on there being a single point of entry a single database

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It seems obvious but we need A single compliant database of microchipped cats and dogs like we have for horses For it to be compulsory for chips to be checked against that database at every first vet appointment

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To confuse matters further there are also other microchipping databases which w wh ich are not on the Government list but continue to trade

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These unapproved microchip databases often rank very highly on search engines so will be the first the unsuspecting public find If your puppy is registered on this system you have not complied with the law and could be fined 500

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but much worse if your pet is lost or stolen their microchip will come up as unregistered and won t be returned to you

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Please make it compulsory for chips to be checked at the FIRST veterinary appointment Then people would discover ASAP the pet they have just been sold is stolen

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If Fern had been taken to the vet with an owner she d not have had her chip scanned and her family would still be in limbo w When she d been operated W on on if the vet had checked her he chip Fern would have been home much sooner b Vets must scan new clients pets routinely

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The Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance was launched in 2014 at Westminster bringing together several key groups

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Debbie Matthews started Vets Get Scanning after her two dogs were stolen from her car Marc Abraham the inspirational vet behind Lucy s Law

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J Jayne Hayes founder of Dog Lost the aamazing not for profit website that helps the community to reunite 1 000s of h pets p Richard Jordan from action group Pet Theft Awareness Arnot A Ar no Wilson ffrom fr om the The Dog Union alliance of responsible breeders an al

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Patron Brenda Blethyn OBE I m delighted to be a patron of the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance and happy to add my name to secure PetTheft Reform Our pets are depending on us

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Patron Dr Daniel Allen has created several Government petitions and is an Animal Geographer based at Keele University He is interested in the cultural significance of animals around the world Daniel is an academic author animal welfare advocate and otter specialist He has published peer reviewed papers on PetTheftReform

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Patron Beverley Cuddy has been editor of Dogs Today magazine for three decades For the last six years she has worked closely with Direct Line to highlight the annual figures for dog theft collected from police forces but as this is not yet a specific crime not all forces are able to supply data

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Our pets are not inanimate pieces of property but sentient caring animals that are an integral part of our homes the theft of which should attract far more serious sentences to adequately reflect that Legal Advisor Professor John Cooper QC

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Just some of the high profile supporters of pet theft reform

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Please help keep all pets safer by taking an active part in the October 19th debate

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The next image reveals just a fraction of the pets that are still missing Each photo represents a family struggling to cope Please make sure pet theft is taken seriously and protect others from this cruel fate

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Please take part in the Pet Theft debate on Monday 19 October and let s make pet theft a specific offence with a custodial sentence

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If you need any more information any statistics for example we d be delighted to help www stolenandmissingpetsalliance co uk

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How can you help Please share this as widely as possible on social media Can you ask if your MP is going to take part in the parliamentary pet theft debate on Monday 19th October Click the green button to find your MP s details And there s a new petition to sign and share Specifically about Chip reform Click the yellow button to go there