Meath West TD Peadar Toibin has presented a bill to the Dail aimed at dealing with the increase in pet thefts nationwide.

The Criminal Justice Theft and Fraud Offences Amendment Pets Bill 2020 provides for a mandatory minimum sentence for theft and certain related offences concerning pets.

Deputy Tóibín said: “In the last year we’ve seen reports of the theft and resale of family pets. We have also heard reports of pets being taken for breeding purposes. It has been reported that professional gangs can making big money from this type of theft. It has even been suggested that thieves may leave a mark on the road in chalk or by tying a piece of string to a garden gate to target those houses for theft after dark.

“The recent seizure by Gardaí of 32 stolen dogs worth over €150,000 and four horses in Baldoyle, shows that pet theft is not going away and is becoming a viable criminal enterprise for many criminals across the country. Many of the stolen dogs were pregnant, and criminals use their pups to maximise the profits.”

“In 2020, despite the country rarely being out of lockdown or under heavy restrictions, 196 instances of animal theft were reported to the Gardaí. Furthermore, instances of animal theft correspond to worryingly low rates of associated charges or summons. In 2020, 196 incidents of animal theft 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. In some years it is marginally better, but not what it should be.”

“People value their pets. The sentence and punishments for those who steal family pets should be harsher than the penalty for stealing objects, because to most people their pets are viewed as more than a mere household or farmyard asset, a dog or a cat can be a member of the family and families that lose them are often broken hearted. 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.