National survey shows majority think dog theft is serious problem
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill is thanking the public for having their say in a national survey designed to understand what pet owners think about dog theft.
Nearly 125,000 people responded to the survey, with the second largest number of responses after London coming from the South West.
The survey was launched by Sussex PCC Katy Bourne in partnership with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners amid growing national concerns that the problem has been on the increase during lockdown. It aimed to find out what the public thought about dog theft, enforcement and the prosecution of offenders.
An overwhelming majority - 97% - said they thought dog theft was a serious problem, with 22% saying they knew someone who has had a dog stolen in the last year.
The current maximum sentence for theft is currently seven years in prison but two years if the goods are valued at less than £500. However, 87% of respondents to the national survey said they felt the theft of a pet should be treated differently to other cases of theft and sentencing guidelines should reflect the companionship that pets provide their owners.
Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The huge number of responses the survey received demonstrates how much of an important issue this is to people. And although Dorset is one of the safest parts of the country, with reports of dog theft remaining very low here, I want to thank the many residents who shared their views.
"As an animal lover, I understand that a dog is much more than a mere piece of property, and this survey shows many dog owners believe that companionship should be recognised in law.
“This was one of the largest ever surveys conducted by PCCs and I hope it will now help policy makers understand the experiences of dog owners and the level of support for creating harsher punishments.”