Reform Irish Laws on companion animal theft, sales and microchipping

Reform Irish Laws on companion animal theft, sales and microchipping

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Animal Welfare and Veterinary Care started this petition to Houses of the Oireachtas

Molly- above, was stolen on July 17th 2020, and believed to have been trafficked to the UK. If the person who stole this much loved family pet is caught, they are punished in the same vein as stealing a phone, or a plant pot. The theft of a pet needs its own classification and adequate punishment. Pet theft is a LOW RISK/ HIGH REWARD CRIME. 

Pet theft and illegal sales of dogs are rapidly increasing with insufficient deterrent under current legislation. Dogs are classed as possessions, and if stolen, the punishment is minor if any. THIS IS NO DETERRENT to the thieves. Microchipping detail is spread across multiple databases with little cohesion, making it cumbersome to use and easier to exploit. A central database is urgently needed to speed up reunification of pets and owners.  Digital sales platforms need to be linked to a complete microchip database (once formed) to ensure compliance with the Animal Health and Welfare (sale or supply of pet animals) regulations 2019, easily preventing sales of stolen pets, or illegally produced/sold pets. 

Theft of dogs MUST reflect their value to the individual or family unit. The loss is not relative to the monetary cost of the animal, but akin to kidnap of a family member, causing severe emotional distress. Dogs can be the only company a person has, their theft to the majority is devastating.  In other countries pets are recognised as sentient beings, and pet theft is a felony, reflecting the change of the status of our pets in modern civilisation. The current law does not reflect this. 

Pet thieves can receive custodial sentences under current theft legislation, however this is rarely applied, therefore we call for dog/pet/companion animal theft to be considered as a stand alone offence, with a minimum fine or sentence to ensure the law acts as a deterrent to pet theft. Dogs are regularly in excess of €1000 to purchase, this should be the minimum fine per dog stolen. Pet theft now has its own pulse code with An Garda Siochana, demonstrating the need for pets to be viewed separately to petty theft. The law needs to reflect the current day position of pets, no longer just a possession, but integral to peoples lives and well being.

The Microchipping of dogs regulations 2015, and sale or supply of pet animals 2019 require amending as they are currently not achieving their aim. We call for an amendment to the legislation, requiring all licenced microchip databases to feed into independent central database. A central database allows for dog licences and microchip data to become a unified accurate representation of dog ownership. It allows the microchip law achieve its purpose. If a vehicle is registered to an owner by its number plate, enabling tracing and accountability, then a similar register of dogs, by their legally required identification, a microchip, can ensure details are updated yearly with the dog licence renewal, compiling a regularly updated, GDPR compliant, usable database. This technology is easily integrated with current systems. This allows faster and easier reuniting of pets with their owners, and considerable savings on pounds and kennelling fees for the authorities. 

We call for chip scanning on all dogs/companion animals found straying or presented for treatment. This should be a legal requirement for all pounds, re-homing centres, wardens and veterinary surgeries, to allow traceability for stolen pets to be quickly reunited with their owners, and avoid unnecessary kenneling, re homing or at worst, unsanctioned euthanasia of a beloved pet. Like selling a vehicle, or an equine,  change of ownership must be registered on the database. 

We are working towards all relevant authorities, ports and registered rehoming centres etc having linked microchip scanners, that INSTANTLY alert the user that the animal scanned, has been reported missing. This saves valuable man hours searching databases, and cuts kennelling/ pound costs considerably. It prevents the microchip database loopholes resulting in lost pets remaining lost.

We call for ALL online platforms selling pets to be linked to the newly formed central microchip database, with software integration instantly refusing adverts that do not meet the legal requirement as cited in the sale of animals act. Therefore anyone trying to sell a pet that does not match its microchip or owner details, will not be allowed to run. THIS PREVENTS RESALE OF STOLEN PETS AND ILLEGAL PUPPY FARMING OPERATIONS and prevents sellers registering multiple fake identities. Central microchip databases across neighbouring countries can be cross interfaced, preventing trafficking of pets abroad. 

Signatories of this petition wish to see these reforms:-

1) Theft of a companion animal to be a stand alone offence with a minimum punishment that serves as an adequate deterrent.

2) Amendment to the Microchipping of Dogs 2015 - to a) create an independent central database of microchips that serves as a register of ownership that is updated on transfer of ownership and yearly with licencing. And b) to initiate compulsory scanning of all pets straying or presented for treatment, to ensure pets are reunited with their owners swiftly, and pet theft is more easily detected.

3) Amend the Animal Health and Welfare (sale or supply of pet animals ) regulation 2019, to make it a legal requirement for all sale of pets platforms to integrate to the central database, to ensure every advertisement complies with the legal requirement of the microchip and registered ownership/supplier number details. This significantly reduces the market for illegal dog trading.

Dogs are saving lives detecting cancer and covid, dogs detect drugs and arms, dogs protect us in working and personal roles, dogs keep us fit and interactive with society, dogs provide sight for the blind, independence as assistance and therapy dogs, company for the lonely, dogs are to many, family members. These changes will provide a safer environment for the public to enjoy their companionship with their pets, it will provide long term savings for the authorities, and it will push Ireland to the forefront of Animal Welfare Reform. Its a win win win situation


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