The government is trying to impose stricter penalties for owning pets after the Covid pandemic
Lockdown has seen a sharp increase in the number of people buying dogs – but with the return to the nearby office, there are fears that many animals will be abandoned when workers are no longer home to care for them.
According to The Telegraph, 2.2 million people bought dogs in the first six months of lockdown.
The government’s Animal Theft Task Force has expanded to include the role of animals, The Times reports, and ministers are also considering prosecuting “dognapping”.
The plans could include measures to punish people who leave dogs at home for long periods of time.
Dognapping spiked during lockdown – almost a fifth in 2020 – and is subject to animal welfare laws, which allow for a maximum prison sentence of seven years.
A government source told The Times: “We need to start thinking that it’s not just about stealing, it’s also about giving up.”
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Robert Buckland, the Lord Chancellor, said: “This task force will examine all available options to protect families from this appalling crime.”
David Lammy, Labour’s shadow justice secretary, told The Times: “The horrible thought of stealing my dog keeps me up at night. Current laws do not prevent organized crooks from stealing pets for profit. “