CLARE Fianna Fáil TD Cathal Crowe is calling for a new and separate criminal offence of companion pet theft to be enshrined in law.
He said that recent weeks have seen a significant spike of such incidents around Clare, with the use of drone footage reported as one method of scoping out potential animals to steal.
“Irish law considers dogs and other family pets to be property, meaning that if someone steals a family pet, such as a dog, it’s punished in the same way as if someone steals the likes of a mobile phone or a power tool,” said Deputy Crowe.
“The current law does not reflect the emotional harm that can be caused to victims of pet theft. The penalty for pet theft should be more severe than for the theft of a non-living property. Currently, there is no specific code on the Garda PULSE system to record theft of animals, the same code is used for all types of theft and therefore it is not possible to know the level of animal theft in Ireland. I am proposing the creation of a new offence called the theft of a companion animal,” he added.
“Many people form close emotional relationships with their pets and rely on their pet for companionship and emotional support. We know pets can have a positive impact on their owners and can improve psychological well-being, reduced risks of depression and loneliness. Pets can also act as therapy dogs including reducing anxiety in children such as children with autism spectrum disorder,” Deputy Crowe concluded.