I've had a lot of emails from constituents concerning pet theft, particularly in relation to cats. Our pets are companions and I fully recognise that the theft of a much-beloved pet can have a huge impact on both pets and families. As a patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, I thank you for supporting me in being a champion for animals in parliament.
I’m pleased to assure you that in 2021, the Government set up the Pet Theft Taskforce to investigate concerns about a perceived increase in pet theft. This task force gathered, researched, and commissioned work to build an evidence base of the issue and worked with police, law enforcement, and experts to formulate recommendations.
The Government remains fully committed to delivering its manifesto commitments on animal welfare. From my understanding, the Kept Animals Bill risked considerable scope creep and therefore the measures will be taken through individually. This new approach means that the Government is able to go further and more effectively achieve its aims for animal welfare. I have noted your suggestion for cats to be included in the offence of pet abduction and I will continue to monitor this issue closely. The Government recently legislated to require cat microchipping, in addition to dogs, which can provide an effective deterrent against theft. The new rules stipulate that cats must be microchipped before they reach 20 weeks of age.
The Government continues to work closely with animal welfare charities, such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) to tackle this issue, who provide guidance on stopping pet theft and encourage pet owners to put a collar and tag on pets with the owner’s name, address, and phone number on. In the meantime, other recommendations from the pet theft task force are being taken forward.