Pet abduction is to be made a criminal offence in England after a rise in reported thefts during Covid lockdowns, APA reports citing BBC.
Theft of a pet is currently treated as a loss of an owner's property, but ministers want a new law to acknowledge the emotional distress it can cause.
The proposal is one of a string of recommendations in a report by the pet theft taskforce - set up to tackle an increase in incidents during lockdown.
It found that around 2,000 dogs were reported stolen last year.
The taskforce - comprised of government officials, police, prosecutors, and local authorities - received evidence from animal welfare groups, campaigners, academics and other experts.
Its report found that seven in 10 pet thefts recorded by police involved dogs.
Although offences under the Theft Act 1968 carry a maximum term of seven years, ministers say there is little evidence of that being used, because the severity of the sentence is partly determined by the monetary value of the item taken.
It is not known what the maximum sentence for a new offence of pet abduction might be.