Aontú Pet Theft Bill Passes First Stage Bill in the DáilThe Aontú Pet Theft Bill has passed First Stage in the Dáil today. The Bill introduced by Peadar Tóibín TD seeks to create a 10 month minimum sentence for the theft of the family pet. Speaking in the Dáil an Teachta Tóibín stated;
“In the last year, the issue of pet theft has come into sharp focus for many families in Ireland. The Covid Lockdowns has seen many people decide to get a family pet. This, amongst other factors has seen the price of pets especially dogs increase significantly. There is now a lucrative market for pet thieves. Professional criminal gangs are making big money from the theft of Pets. I have many stories of thieves leaving marks on the road in chalk or by tying a piece of string to a garden gate to target those houses. These thieves often return after dark to steel the family pet”.
“The recent seizure by Gardaí of 32 stolen dogs worth over €150k and four horses in Baldoyle, shows the organised nature of this crime. Many pets are sold online or in cash only deals to make Garda investigation more difficult. There are several credible reports of these stolen pets being quickly ferried to Britain when stolen”.
“I have carried out a great deal of research in this area. In the past 5 years, there have been over 1,000 instances of animal theft reported to the Gardaí across the country with Canine, Bovine/Ovine and Equine seeing the highest rates of theft.
These of course only account for reported incidents of animal theft, with unreported thefts or mistaken incidents of lost animals are left out of these figures. This means that the rate of animal theft is likely higher”.
“In 2020, despite the country rarely being out of lockdown or under heavy restrictions its estimated that pet theft increased by 16%. 196 instances of animal theft were reported to the Gardaí. But this correlated to only 40 associated charges/summons. That means for every five incidents of animal theft, only one shall correlate to an associated charge/summons. Gardaí are doing their best trying to investigate and break up these criminal enterprises, but now the law needs to step up”.
“The DSPCA and Dogs Trust who are doing the work of caring for stolen, abandoned and lost dogs have both supported the Aontú Bill. We in the Dail need to provide the necessary legislation to aid their work. It is for this reason we in Aontú are introducing the Criminal Justice Theft and Fraud Offences Amendment Pets Bill 2020. The purpose of this Bill is to provide for a mandatory minimum sentence for theft and certain related offences concerning pets”.
“People value their pets. Pets are members of the family. The loss or death of a pet is a heart breaking occasion. Families grieve when they lose a pet. As such the sentence and punishments for those who steal family pets should be harsher than the penalty for stealing objects. The loss of a pet is not the same as the loss of a laptop or a phone. It is not the same as a mere household or farmyard asset”.
“People who break the law and steal a family pet should face at minimum a 10 month prison sentence, and I would urge other TDs to support this Bill”, concluded Deputy Tóibín.