All dog and cat owners slapped with new law and told 'it is an offence'

Cat and dog owners have been warned the new pet abduction bill has become law - making it an offence for anyone to steal a pet. The law sets out a fine, and up to five years in prison, for those who breach the legal restrictions.

The law states: “The new law recognises that cats and dogs are not inanimate objects but sentient beings capable of experiencing distress and other emotional trauma when they are stolen from their owners or keepers.”

The law also builds upon a new law which states all cats must be microchipped by June 10. Evidence from the Pet Theft Taskforce suggests around 2,000 dog and over 400 cat theft crimes were reported to police in 2020, causing considerable distress for owners and their pets alike. With an estimated 28% of UK adults owning a dog and 24% owning a cat, pet theft is a major concern to the public.

READ MORE UK set for three sizzling 30C heatwaves with England 'hotter than Portugal'

Support for the Act builds upon wider action to protect pets from theft, including making the microchipping of cats compulsory from 10 June 2024. This makes it easier for lost, stray or stolen pets to be reunited with their owners and returned home safely.

The RSPCA said: “We’re thrilled the Pet Abduction Bill has successfully passed all stages in Parliament and will now become law! Pets are truly part of the family, and we’re delighted to see this crucial legislation pass.”

You can be fined up to £500 if your dog or cat is not microchipped when they need to be. The government warns: "You must make sure your dog is fitted with a microchip and registered on a database by the time it’s 8 weeks old.

"From 10 June 2024, cats in England will need to be microchipped and registered on a database by the time they’re 20 weeks old."