Reacting to the news that the government are looking at introducing new laws to address dog theft, Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan said their poor track record on implementing existing laws shows that new measures are useless if not enforced.
Senator Boylan said:
“Dog theft is a particularly cruel and nasty crime as pets are not just property but are an integral part of a family. Harsh sentences should be handed down for anyone caught stealing dogs to deter others.
“However, introducing laws is one thing but implementing them is another. Since 1st February 2020, we have regulations on the sale and supply of pets and despite animal welfare organisations reporting hundreds of illegal adverts, the Government have confirmed to me that they are yet to take an infringement case.
“Last month I questioned Minister Hackett about the illegal online sale of pets and her reply was that consumers should do their research before buying a pet.
“This is despite the fact that the public don’t have access to the data to verify if a seller is legitimate and/or if the pet is coming from a puppy farm.
“Animal welfare organisations are using up valuable resources reporting adverts but it is like chasing your tail. As soon as one illegal advert is taken down another one pops up. It also takes days for adverts to be removed by which time the dog is most likely sold.
“There is also poor enforcement of the microchipping laws which would help to address the issue of dog thefts and help reunite lost or stolen pets with their families.
“I have no objection to the government introducing laws to tackle dog theft but I wish they would implement the existing laws.
“They also need to put the resources in place to collate all the data on dog breeders, sellers and microchip numbers to create a central accessible database.
“The creation of such a database would not only tackle the illegal sale of animals online but it would also make it much harder for unscrupulous dog breeders to avoid paying tax.”