I appreciate every email, letter, and call that I receive from constituents concerned about the safety of our pets. I have always been an animal lover, and I know that many Southend residents are the same. We have a duty to care for animals, and stopping smuggling of pets is a key part of that duty. I take my role as a patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation very seriously, and support all the Government’s actions to improve animal welfare and maintain our high rank on the animal protection index. I am proud to continue the work that Sir David Amess did for animal welfare, and puppy smuggling is no exception.
My Private Members’ Bill (Pet Abduction Bill) to make dog abduction a specific offence has recently move to Report Stage. I am happy that this important Bill is passing through the Legislative process with such speed, and support from both sides of the House. The Bill will help crack down on the mistreatment and illegal trading of pets. The Bill aims to issue a fine and up to five years in prison for anyone involved in the theft of our pets. Essex Police figures show 334 reports of pet theft, with most of those being of dogs. I have also launched Emilie’s Law, which will criminalise fatal dog-on-dog attacks and hold irresponsible dog owners to account. I will continue to do all that I can to protect the pets that are so important to families and individuals. I am proud of the work of our fellow constituents who founded the group Tilly’s Angels, who joined me for the Second Reading of the Bill, and who have fought for the recovery and welfare of dogs in Southend. I feel so lucky to have such strong support from so many Southenders, and from my colleagues at the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation.
The UK has one of the most rigorous pet travel border checking regimes in the world, ensuring that all dogs arriving in the country are legally required to have had their microchips and paperwork check to ensure they are fit, vaccinated, and old enough to travel. We are always pushing hard to ensure that puppy smugglers are illegally bringing vulnerable dogs into this country. Furthermore, since the introduction of Lucy’s Law in 2020, everyone must now buy directly their dogs directly from breeders or consider adopting from rescue centres. All those found selling puppies and kittens without the proper license could receive an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months. I am proud that the United Kingdom has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and that it shares the highest ranking on the animal protection index, as well as the highest in the G7. Of course, further progress must be made, and I am passionate about driving these changes.
My Private Member’s Bill and the existing regulations and requirements will make sure that animals in, and coming to, this country can be protected and cared for. I will always continue to fight for animal welfare causes, and to continue Sir David Amess’ legacy in this regard.