The Dáil will debate a motion backed by multiple Galway TDs this week to introduce tougher penalties for stealing family pets.
When the Dáil returns on Wednesday, one of the items on the agenda for debate is the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2020.
A group of regional TDs is saying that the government should use this bill as a vehicle to quickly enact changes to law to bring in tougher penalties for pet thieves, recognising that it is different from stealing other property.
The Regional Group includes Galway TDs Seán Canney, Noel Grealish, and Denis Naughten.
In 2020 the Gardaí received 14 reports per day of an animal being stolen the Independent TD said.
Under current law this is treated as the theft of property, no different than a mobile phone.
However, Deputy Canney said that this doesn’t take into account the “emotional distress” that comes from having a pet stolen.
“We all know that pets are much more than property, they are very much part of a family in homes across our country,” Seán Canney said.
“Sometimes the only friend to someone who is isolated, the guide for someone who is blind or has other sensory issues, and this needs to be clearly reflected in much stronger legislation”.
Deputy Canney said that there is a need to raise public awareness of the issue of pets being stolen, as there would be “no demand for criminals to steal them” if people were not buying them.
“Those purchasing animals should make sure that they are microchipped and have the details on the chip checked in advance of purchase”.
“We are also urging people to get their dogs microchipped, especially those who came to new homes at Christmas and ensure that the details stored on the chip are kept up-to-date so they can be easily identified if found.”