In the past five years there have been over 1,000 instances of animal theft across the country

Move to jail pet thieves

The signatories behind an opposition motion to address the spate of pet thefts have asked government parties to lend their support. A Bill consigned by Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD, Galway East Independent TD Seán Canney and Wexford Independent TD Verona Murphy looks to make pet theft punishable by a term of imprisonment.

In the past five years, there have been over 1,000 instances of animal theft across the country with Canine, Bovine/Ovine and Equine seeing the highest rates of theft per species. In 2020 there were 196 instances of animal theft reported to the Gardaí.

Tomorrow [Wednesday] the three Deputies are hoping to introduce the Bill that would ensure a minimum of a 10-month prison sentence for anyone convicted of stealing a family pet.

“In the last year we’ve seen reports of the theft and resale of family pets,” Deputy Tóibín said, “It has been reported that professional gangs can making big money from this type of theft.”

“The recent seizure by Gardaí of 32 stolen dogs worth over €150k 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 of their threat,” he said.

Deputy Tobin believes the matter, widely publicised on social media, needs to be addressed in law: “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.”

The Aontú party leader said the Bill reflects public attitudes to their pets: “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.