Consultation to launch as dog thefts rise by 700%
A consultation is expected to launch early this autumn into making dog theft a specific offence in Scotland as the number of pets being stolen across the north-east has risen by 700 per cent.
Figures from Police Scotland show dog theft incidents, thought to be for financial gain, rose by 25 per cent across the country in 2020/21.
Now, north-east MSP Maurice Golden is taking a bill through the Scottish Parliament to increase the punishment for those who steal dogs, with the official consultation period expected to start next month.
In the north-east, eight dogs were stolen, an increase of 700 per cent on the previous year, making the region a hotspot for pets being taken to be sold on for cash.
Mr Golden, whose petition has now almost hit 1,500 signatures, described the offences as “sickening”.
He said: “These shocking figures are just the tip of the iceberg because we know many more offences often go unrecorded.
“The statistics illustrate why the law must change – it’s completely unacceptable that dog theft is currently treated the same as a criminal stealing a mobile phone as if pets like these were an inanimate object that can be replaced.
“A dog is part of the family and the law doesn’t recognise the loss, grief and mourning that owners face when their dog is stolen.
"This is exactly why I have brought forward a bill which would increase jail sentences for those convicted of this sickening crime to five years.
"I hope the consultation will formally start next month so we can continue the momentum in achieving a change in the law.”
Mr Golden’s petition states: “For the first time, thieves will be punished because of the harm they cause to the dog, not just because the dog has a monetary value.
"It will also take account of the worry and stress caused to owners when their pet is stolen.
"And it will improve the way we track animal crime, so we can better prevent it in future.
"But changing the law isn’t easy, so I need your support. Please sign my petition to send a clear message to the Scottish Government that we must give our dogs the full protection of the law.”
You can sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/make-dog-theft-a-crime