Richmond MP Rishi Sunak has given his backing to an attempt to curb the growing problem of dog theft.
The MP attended the very first Dog Theft Awareness Day in Parliament and gave his support to a campaign to raise awareness of the issue and introduce tougher legislation.
He cited recent figures supplied by North Yorkshire Police which show the number of dog thefts in the county is growing. In 2011/12 there were eight reported thefts, 25 in 2014/15 and 17 last year.
Mr Sunak said he was pleased to attend the event hosted by his colleague Gareth Johnson, the MP for Dartford, and the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (STAMPA).
He said: “Dog theft is a cruel crime which causes great distress to owners and their dogs.
“Nationally, the incidence of dog theft has risen by 24% in the last three years and no dog owner is safe from the crime which hits families, the elderly, and the disabled.
“Tougher sentences, better detection and compulsory scanning of microchips could all help bring this down.”
Mr Sunak said STAMPA’s evidence suggested that dog theft had become an organised crime as the value of dogs increased. While fashionable dogs such as pugs, French bulldogs, chihuahuas and working dogs were top of the criminals’ target list, other dogs were also vulnerable.