Pets are not objects and this should be clearly reflected in laws to stop the theft of pets or effectively holding them as ransom for a reward, Denis Naughten has told the Dáil.
“This year there has been a 33% increase in reports of the theft of pets to the Gardai but under the current law pets are considered property and they are treated in the exact same way same way as the theft of a mobile phone,” stated Denis Naughten.
“But we all know that pets are much more than property, they are very much part of a family in homes across our country; sometimes the only friend to someone who is isolated, the guide for someone who is blind or has other sensory issues, and this needs to be clearly reflected in much stronger legislation.
“Every day Gardai receive 14 reports of an animal being lost or stolen and with pets in high demand on the run up to Christmas there is a real fear that there will be a surge in such reports.”
Denis Naughten TD wants the Government to use a new law currently before the Oireachtas, the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Bill, as a legal mechanism to have this law changed quickly in advance of Christmas.
Commenting on his proposal to the Tánaiste in the Dáil he said that he wanted “the laws of this country to act as a real deterrent against this growing crime; and to make it clear that we will act to ensure that there are significant penalties for those who attempt to re-sell these pets”.
He went on to point out that there are also unscrupulous people who, particularly during the lockdown, are exploiting a vulnerable owner of pets, who steal the animal and then claim a reward for the safe return of their beloved pet
The Tánaiste in responding supported the point made by Deputy Naughten and gave a commitment to take the matter up directly with the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee.