New DAERA pet abduction offence a positive step for animal welfare, says Blair

A new pet abduction offence is a positive step forward for animal welfare in Northern Ireland, Alliance Animal Welfare spokesperson John Blair MLA has said.

John Blair animal welfare daera

Mr Blair was speaking after Alliance Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Andrew Muir confirmed he will lay a motion in the Assembly to allow for the introduction of a new pet abduction offence here.

The motion will ensure Northern Ireland is included in a Private Members’ Bill currently making its way through the UK Parliament which will create specific offences for the abduction of dogs and cats to recognise pet animals are not mere property but much-loved companions. 

“This is a significant stride for animal welfare in Northern Ireland and provides reassurance and protection for pet owners,” said Mr Blair.

“It is vital we work fast to get the Consent Motion agreed by the Assembly so these new pet offences can become law here in Northern Ireland.

“Taking someone’s dog or cat is not the same as stealing a car or a television – our pets are living beings, not just property, as they are currently viewed by the law. It is a positive development this is finally being acknowledged by the Minister, as it will help to increase the number of prosecutions, making sure pet theft is no longer a low-risk but high-reward crime.

“The theft of a beloved pet is a heinous crime that causes immense distress to the owners, who rightly see their pets as part of their family. This is not to mention the extreme stress and fear the pets are put under as they are sold on to new families or subjected to a worse fate. For instance, they are often forced to participate in dog fighting activities or are forcefully bred within puppy farms.

“I would like to thank the DAERA Minister for ensuring Northern Ireland is included within this Private Members’ Bill and for all the work he is doing alongside this to improve animal welfare in here.”