A Scottish Conservative MP’s bid to toughen up laws on pet theft has passed its first parliamentary hurdle.
Ross Thomson, member for Aberdeen South, wants a change to existing legislation to recognise the status and importance that pets have within families.
Last week the MP for Aberdeen South proposed a ten-minute rule bill to amend the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 to make the theft of a protected animal a specific offence.
At present, pets are treated as possessions and no different from any other inanimate object that is stolen, such as a TV or a car.
Mr Thomson’s bill met no opposition and will now proceed to its second reading on Friday, October 26. He will also be calling upon the Scottish Government to act.
The north-east MP has campaigned previously on animal welfare issues, successfully persuading the UK Government’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to look at changes to laws around the use of electric shock collars.
His latest campaign has won the backing of TV vet Marc Abraham, or ‘Marc the Vet’ as he’s usually known, a practicing veterinary surgeon, author, and animal welfare campaigner.
Mr Thomson also has the backing of Stolen and Missing Pets (SAMPA) and Pet Theft Awareness and Dr Daniel Allen, Animal Geographer and the author of “Otter” and ‘The Nature magpie’. Dr Allen started a petition calling for action on pet theft that has been backed by more than 100,000 people.
He said: “For anyone unfortunate enough to have experienced pet theft, it can be truly heart-breaking, distressing and devastating.
“The theft of a pet should be recognised as a serious, criminal and punishable offence that recognises the status the animal has within their family.
“I want to see tougher sentencing guidelines for courts to deal with those that are caught.
“It is time for change.
“I am very pleased at the level of cross-party support I have received on this issue so far.
“I look forward to this bill proceeding to its second reading and I hope that we can deliver the change that is needed as soon as possible.”