Aontú leader Peader Tóibín has called for a ten-month prison sentence for pet thieves following a spate of dog thefts during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Deputy Tóibín has proposed the State crackdown on what has been termed a ‘pandemic of theft’.
Commenting on the need for legislative action, Deputy Tóibín said: “The theft and resale of pets has almost become a profession with an apprenticeship process and its own unique signals and codes.”
The legislation is also being supported by Independent TD Sean Canney.
The Criminal Justice Theft and Fraud Offences Amendment Pets Bill 2020 would see a minimum ten-month prison sentence for people convicted of stealing a pet.
He said: “The sentence and punishments for those who steal family pets should be harsher than the penalty for stealing objects.
“To most people, their pets are viewed as more than a mere household or farmyard asset, a dog or a cat can be a member of the family and their loss, or worse still – unexplained disappearance, causes real upset. We should recognise this by installing an appropriate deterrent into law.”
The Party for Animal Welfare (PAW) has welcomed Deputy Tóibín’s bill but believes a “longer sentence is needed” to combat the problem.
There have been 577 reports of stolen animals made so far this year, and a further 3,348 reports of lost animals.
In August, 10 suspected stolen dogs were discovered by Gardaí during the search of a property in Rathkeale.