Milton Keynes’ first Pet Theft Taskforce has been launched this week to investigate the recent reported rise in pet theft since the beginning of public health measures in 2020.
Sales platforms have reported a considerable rise in puppy and kitten prices over the course of the past year following more people deciding to buy or adopt a pet. Recent reports have suggested that this may be leading to a rise in pet thefts.
According to DogsTrust, the price for five of the UK’s most sought-after breeds grew significantly during the first lockdown with the average price of doubling from £810 to nearly £2000. Breeds such as English Bulldog puppies were being listed with prices as high as £9000. Recent police investigations into dog theft have also resulted in numerous raids and arrests on suspicion of theft, animal cruelty and illegal dog breeding.
The new taskforce has been set up to gather evidence to understand the factors that are contributing to a rise in thefts and recommend measures to tackle the problem locally, regionally and nationally.
In the first meeting, the taskforce heard from specialist dog breeders, trainers and animal welfare groups who raised issues such as education, licensing and public awareness.
It also heard from Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber, local MPs Iain Stewart and Ben Everitt and Cllr Alex Walker, Leader of the Conservative Group.
Cllr Alex Walker, 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.
It was great to have our first meeting and crucial to hear from local experts who have knowledge in the field about what we can do to better protect our pets going forward.”
MP for MK North, Ben Everitt said:
"Pet theft is an issue that I know worries many families across Milton Keynes so I'm pleased to be part of MK's first ever Pet Theft Taskforce to look at tackling the crime.
"The first meeting was a huge success hearing from experts and I'm also delighted the Government is legislating to make pet theft a specific offence."
MP for MK South, Iain Stewart said:
“The first meeting of the Milton Keynes Pet Theft Taskforce was very insightful as I heard from local trainers and breeder on how we can tackle the horrible crime of pet theft.
“I look forward to working with the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, the Milton Keynes North MP and the Leader of the Conservative Group on MK Council to look at solutions to protect MK’s pets!”