A CAMPAIGNING MP is launching a Private Members’ Bill in the Commons calling for a “specific offence” for pet abduction which can have a “devastating impact” on families.

Southend West’s Anna Firth outlined her Pet Abduction Bill in the Commons as she underlined the need for further measures to deter potential thieves.

It comes after the cross-Government pet theft task force was launched in response to a perceived rise in cases of dog theft during the coronavirus pandemic.

Theft of a pet is already a crime, but it does not have a “unique identifier in crime datasets”, meaning it cannot be monitored or distinguished between theft of a property and that of an animal.

The pet theft taskforce found the emotional impact of having a pet stolen is “undeniable”, and there is a high level of perceived fear around pet theft.

If backed by MPs, the new Bill would create a specific offence for pet abduction, as well as ensuring the Government is equipped with the data to tackle the criminal activity by establishing a mechanism for pet abduction cases to be distinguished from general property theft within the justice system.

Ms Firth said: “I am delighted to have secured the opportunity to introduce this Bill in Parliament.

“Britain is a nation of animal lovers and I know that Southend and Leigh are no different.

“Pets are considered members of the family and the impact of one being stolen is devastating.

“Having seen stories in our local papers about the theft of pets, I know that this is an issue some of my constituents have faced and this bill will be an important and welcome step for animal welfare.

“I am confident that my Bill will attract cross party support, and I look forward to guiding it through the House of Commons and onto our statute books swiftly.”

Pet abduction has been a key focus of public campaigns, which have resulted in five petitions since 2016, all triggering debates, as well as a presentation Bill and a Ten-Minute Rule Bill.

A second reading of the Bill will be debated in the Commons on January 19.