A group of campaigners who successfully lobbied to stiffen penalties for pet theft have been nominated for the Petition Campaign of the Year Award at the Your UK Parliament Awards.
Dr Daniel Allen, from Keele, Staffordshire, started the petition ‘Make pet theft crime a specific offence with custodial sentences’ in 2020, which received more than 143,000 signatures. This followed two earlier petitions, the first from 2018, which was signed by more than 107,000 people, and a second in 2019, which received over 117,000 signatures.
Dr Allen’s campaign was set up in collaboration with Debbie Matthews, CEO of the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance, and supported by a number of other animal rights campaigners, including Dr Marc Abraham OBE, founder of the Lucy’s Law campaign to end puppy farming; Freya Woodhall, whose dog Willow was stolen in 2018; Beverley Cuddy, Editor of Dogs Today Magazine; and John Cooper QC. The campaign has also secured support from celebrities including Ricky Gervais and Clare Balding.
A Parliamentary debate was held on two of Dr Allen’s petitions in October 2020 led by Tom Hunt MP, who backed the campaign’s call for a specific offence to be created, and for the relevant sentencing guidelines to be strengthened. In September 2021 the government announced that it would make ‘pet abduction’ a specific criminal offence.
A judging panel including MPs, members of the House of Lords, campaigning bodies, and previous award winners will decide on the winners shortly.