A Pet Theft Taskforce is being launched in Milton Keynes by the MK Conservatives from September to investigate the recent increase in animal crime since the start of the first lockdown.
Statistics from DogLost, a UK charity that helps victims of dog thefts, recorded a 170% increase in the crime in 2020. While a Freedom of Information request from The Kennel Club showed an approximate 2355 cases of dog theft in 2020, averaging at nearly 200 dogs stolen each month.
The taskforce will investigate what is contributing to the rise in dognapping, raising awareness of the crime and recommending solutions to reverse the rising trend in animal crime. It it set to be comprised of officials from the police and MK Council as well as local pet charities, vets, animal welfare groups and community representatives.
The launch comes amid dog ownership in the UK booming. The increase in demand has seen the most sought-after breeds increase in price by as much as 89% with popular breeds selling for £3,000 or more.
Animal crime will also be a focus for the taskforce. Recently, a gang of puppy smugglers in MK were jailed for a total of 18 years.
In May, the Conservatives announced a national pet-theft taskforce. It has recently put forward a recommendation that will create a new offence for “pet abduction”, which could carry a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.
Cllr Alex Walker, Leader of the Conservative Group, said:
“We pledged to launch a Pet Theft taskforce in May’s local elections because we understand the damage and heartbreak it causes for families.
The shocking animal crimes reported last week show that this is an issue in MK and one that councillors of all parties should work on to address, rather than ignore.
From September, we will be working hard on local solutions to tackle this problem and raise awareness of disgraceful increase in animal crimes.”