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major crackdown New legislation to bring more severe punishments for theft of dogs being drafted by Government

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Closeup of three little puppies in Santa Claus hat

Closeup of three little puppies in Santa Claus hat

Closeup of three little puppies in Santa Claus hat

New legislation to make it a more serious offence to steal a pet dog is being drafted by the Government.

A cross-departmental ministerial team is looking at measures aimed a cracking down on dog theft, which is rampant during the pandemic.

The team, led by Minister of State James Browne, is examining whether new legislation or amendments to existing laws can be used to issue more severe punishments. One proposal being looked at is the introduction of a standalone offence for stealing a companion pet or a support dog.

Another option is to amend existing laws to make the theft of a dog an aggravating factor when sentencing. This could mean dog theft could be heard in the Circuit Court rather than the District Court.

The options were considered at a high-level meeting that included Mr Browne, Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue.

The ministers are also seeking to roll out an awareness campaign.

“People don’t realise that they could be committing an offence by buying a dog from a non-reputable source,” Mr Browne said.

The Wexford minister said there are existing laws in place around microchipping dogs and there are also penalties for receiving stolen goods.

“My concern is the existing laws treat pets the same as any other property stolen from a home and don’t take into account the emotional attachment between a dog and their owner,” he said.

He said both Ms McEntee and Mr McConalogue are supportive of his plans to enact new legislation.


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