Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has welcomed proposals by Conservative colleague Maurice Golden MSP to introduce specific new laws to crack down on dog thefts.
The proposals would see a specific criminal offence of dog theft created, as well as harsher punishments for those found guilty of the crime. It is hoped this will act as a deterrent and improve the safety of pets across the Highlands and Islands. The proposed bill is backed by major animal welfare charities, who have estimated that dog thefts may have increased by up to 170 per cent during lockdown.
Mr Halcro Johnston has also called for as many interested parties from across the Highlands and Islands to respond to a consultation being held on the bill and to make their views known before 16 January 2023.
Jamie Halcro Johnston said: “For pet owners, there can be few things more upsetting than having a beloved pet - an adored part of the family - stolen from your home. Yet for too long, the law has been unable to effectively punish these crimes – or to recognise the trauma caused both to animal and owner."
“It is sickening to see that, with the price of buying a puppy having risen, these appalling individuals and gangs have seemingly stepped up their activities. While effective local policing will be a big part of taking these people to task, it is vital that the police and courts have the right tools at their disposal to punish them."
“My colleague Maurice Golden has taken action and his member’s bill will be open for consultation for 12 weeks up to 16 January. I hope that as many people from the Highlands and Islands – whether it be pet owners, vets or anyone else with an interest – has their say and ensure that a strong message is sent to the Scottish Government that new legislation is vital."
Information about Maurice Golden MSP’s dog theft bill, including a link to the consultation document and how to respond, is available at www.mauricegolden.com/dogabduction