One of the borough’s MPs has voiced her support for a campaign’s quest for tougher punishments on pet thieves.
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue is supporting a campaign to reclassify the theft of a pet to a specific crime in its own right.
The emotionally-charged issue is set to be discussed in the House of Commons, after a petition launched online passed the 100,000 signatures required to trigger a Parliamentary debate.
Speaking after a Dog Lost UK thefts awareness event in the Grand Arcade shopping centre, she said: “We are a nation of animal lovers and as a pet owner through most of my life, I can understand the distress caused by the theft of a much-loved family pet.”
She added: “The petition with over 100,000 signatures demonstrates the strength of public feeling about this issue and the importance of ensuring that those who steal companion animals are prosecuted and sentenced appropriately.”
Responding to the petition, a Government spokesman said: “We understand the distress caused by the theft of a much loved family pet and laws are in place to deal firmly with offenders who commit such crimes.”
Dogs are usually stolen for selling, breeding and dog fighting.
The most commonly stolen dog breeds are Staffordshire Bull Terrier, crossbreed dogs such as Cockapoos, Puggles and French Bulldogs. On average, five dogs were reported stolen every day in the UK in 2017.
Figures recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that last year saw a worrying 66 per cent increase in dognappings with only a fraction of those beloved animals taken being returned to their owners.
There were 15 dogs reported stolen to Greater Manchester Police in 2017, up from nine in 2016.
The House of Commons debate will take place on Monday July 2.