MSPs from the north and north-east are backing a new law being put to the Scottish Parliament to make dog theft a specific crime.
The bill has been introduced by north-east MSP Maurice Golden, and aims to ensure those who steal dogs are properly punished for their crime.
According to Mr Golden’s petition, stealing a dog is currently “no different to stealing a mobile phone”.
He explained this is because “the law treats dogs as objects – not living beings”.
The new law would mean that thieves are punished not only because dogs have a monetary value, but for any harm they inflict.
It would also take into account the emotional toll dog thefts take on owners and improve the way these crimes are tracked. This would mean more work could be put into prevention measures.
‘Dogs are helpers, companions and parts of the family’
With dog thefts a growing issue in recent months, Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston explained why he felt something needed to be done.
He said: “Dogs are helpers, companions and parts of the family for many people. They are an integral part of the many households, and their loss is felt deeply.
“So I am sure most people would find it strange, as I do, that a dog has no more status in law than a mobile phone. That can’t be right.
“And for the dogs themselves, being abducted from their homes is often an immensely traumatic and distressing experience, just as it is for their owners.”
Call to sign petition
Mr Halcro Johnston is urging people to get behind the bill and sign Mr Golden’s petition.
He said: “They deserve better protection from the law, and I hope to see the introduction of this new bill which raises the sentences available to the courts for dog theft.
“People can show their support for that by signing the petition. The more people who sign, the more likely we are to win support in the Scottish Parliament for action.”