Campaigners Express Shock Over Dog Theft Figures as MP Advocates for New Legislation

by Lisa

Campaigners have expressed shock following the release of “astounding” figures revealing the extent of dog thefts in south Essex, as a local MP intensifies efforts to push for new legislation aimed at curbing pet abduction.

Recent data provided by Essex Police has unveiled the number of dogs stolen in theft or robbery incidents in each district across the county spanning from January 2018 to December 2023.


A total of 158 dog thefts were reported across Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend, and Thurrock during this period. Thurrock recorded the highest number of incidents in 2021, with 27 cases reported, contributing to a total of 407 incidents throughout Essex.


This revelation coincides with the progress of Southend West MP Anna Firth’s Pet Abduction Bill, which has successfully passed through the Commons and is now under scrutiny in the House of Lords.


The proposed legislation seeks to reclassify pets from inanimate objects to living beings and, if enacted, would establish dog and cat abductions as specific criminal offenses, with perpetrators facing fines or imprisonment.


Commenting on the statistics provided by Essex Police, Ms. Firth remarked, “Any pet being stolen is one too many. Cats, dogs, and other pets are not mere items, and their abduction causes genuine distress to families and individuals.”

A recent incident in Benfleet, where assailants assaulted a pensioner in an attempt to steal his dog, underscores the severity of the issue.

Established in 2016, the Tilly’s Angels community group, led by Helene Leader and Ann Cushion, aims to aid in the reunification of lost or stolen pets with their families. Ms. Leader highlighted the alarming frequency of dog thefts across south Essex, emphasizing the group’s commitment to supporting owners in reclaiming their pets and making stolen dogs “Too Hot to Handle” by disseminating information on social media.

Additionally, Ms. Leader noted a significant rise in missing cats and expressed hope that the forthcoming legislation, mandating microchipping for cats from 20 weeks of age starting in June, will address this problem effectively.

With Ms. Firth’s Pet Abduction Bill advancing through the legislative process, she expressed optimism about its potential to combat ongoing pet thefts.

“I am delighted the Pet Abduction Bill is now heading to the House of Lords,” said Ms. Firth. “I hope my hugely important bill will soon become law, adding even more protections for our beloved pets.”


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