• A consultation begins in Gloucestershire today aimed protecting all animals
  • Increases in the value of dogs has highlighted their vulnerability and the confusion surrounding what to do when a family pet goes missing
  • Figures show a 170% increase in reported dog thefts nationwide
  • The Rt Hon Countess Bathurst said, “Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl is recognising the need for a ‘joined up’ focus on the safety of our beloved companions, whose contribution to our well-being and mental health has become all too apparent during the last year, during the pandemic”.

The unexplained loss of a family pet will leave its owners devastated, and yet what happens next is mired in personal anxiety, distress and confusion.

Whether the animal might be stolen, injured in an accident or just wandered off, there is no clear path to follow.

More often than not, the first call for help will be made to the police, though it is not wholly their responsibility.

Today, the Rt Hon Countess Sara Bathurst launches a conversation at the start of National Pet Awareness Week in which she advocates the introduction of passports for all animals, just as in agriculture.

In the foreword to a consultation run by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), the Cotswold Countess, who is the wife of Earl Bathurst and an OPCC Ambassador writes, ““With the rise in dog theft alone, over 170% nationwide in the last year (and those are just the reported cases), it has become overwhelmingly obvious the system is simply dysfunctional and as a county, our Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner, with the support of our constabulary, is proving as ever, a leader in addressing a distressing rise in what is a truly heinous crime.

“The solution is out there. Possibly a passport for all animals”

“Martin Surl is recognising the need for a ‘joined-up’ focus on the safety of our beloved companions, whose contribution to our well-being and mental health has become all too apparent during the last year, during the pandemic.

“I welcome and encourage the plans to address a growing and worrying problem of animal welfare, across the board.

“The solution is out there – possibly even the re-introduction of passports for all animals. In the world of agriculture, every single animal has such documentation, proving legal ownership, movement and lifespan, so surely this is something we should afford our family pets – we owe it to them.

“The welfare of every single animal, whether they be domestic, agricultural or indeed wild, is our responsibility and something we should all care about, and indeed support – starting with this discussion, and I applaud it”.

The consultation is primarily aimed at animal supporting organisations and authorities in the hope it will result in radical new policies on animal welfare.

A mixed-methods approach will be taken to obtain views from different groups including RSPCA, vets, animal shelters, trading standards, shipping companies and Facebook groups like Lost dogs- Gloucestershire.

“This is not the time for swift, knee-jerk reaction”

Representatives from each will be invited to a focus group or series of focus groups depending on numbers, which will be run face to face or online as restrictions allow. Feedback gained from one group can be used to inform consultation with the next.

Recommendations of improvements in line with the objectives will be the basis of a conference to be held at the Sabrina Centre later in the year when all Covid regulations should be lifted.

PCC Martin Surl said, “As troubling as recent events are, this is not the time for swift, knee-jerk reaction that grabs the headlines for a day or two and gives the impression of decisive action.

“By looking at the issue through the prism of animal welfare rather than from a single agency point of view we have a better chance of bringing long-lasting control. If that means tighter regulation, maybe the time is right to bring back the dog licence, which was abolished in 1987? It would not only put a greater onus on irresponsible owners but help towards exposing unscrupulous sellers”.