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Dartford MP leads fight for stricter sentences as hundreds of dogs stolen from Kent homes

PUBLISHED: 08:52 13 March 2017 | UPDATED: 09:36 13 March 2017

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson

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An awareness day will be held this week

Fred, Gareth Johnson's dog Fred, Gareth Johnson's dog

Parliament will host the first ever Dog Theft Awareness Day this week, as nearly 500 were stolen from Kent in just five years.

Led by Dartford MP Gareth Johnson, together with the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (Sampa), the event on Tuesday will try to spread awareness of the growing issue of a crime the Tory described as ‘particularly nasty’.

“It is a rising issue in this country, with hundreds of dogs stolen every year,” said Mr Johnson.

“Too often dogs that are stolen are simply reported as missing and very few are ever returned to their owners.

Since 2011 more than 470 dogs have been stolen from Kent.

More than 5000 were stolen across 34 forces in the country, but just 12 per cent of dogs were reportedly returned to their owners, according to figures obtained by Mr Johnson.

He added: “At the moment there is no specific crime of dog theft and so if it does reach court, a dog which is a family member and well-loved, is treated like any other chattel such as a TV or mobile phone and the sentence is based on monetary value.

“Dog theft is a nasty crime and causes devastation to dog owners and huge stress to the dogs themselves. I hope this event highlights this growing problem and the inability of the courts to effectively deal with this issue.”

A spokesman for SAMPA said: “The crime is largely unpunished as few cases reach court, and because dogs are regarded as goods any sentence reflects the value of the dog not the impact on the victim who has lost a member of their family.

“Police statistics vary across the country and are simply the tip of the iceberg. They show how a force records dog theft rather than the size of the problem. Neither do they record the crime of ‘Theft by finding’ where a dog goes missing and is picked up and sold on or kept as a pet or for breeding.

“Until scanning of microchips is compulsory by vets, rescues and other authorities there can be no guarantee that a dog will be reunited with its rightful owner.”

The event is being held at Portcullis House, Houses of Parliament, on Tuesday, March 14 between midday and 3pm.

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