Local TD Denis Naughten says unscrupulous thieves are stealing family pets and then claiming a reward for their safe return.
He said there has been a 33% increase in reports of the theft of pets to the Gardaí, but that under the current law, pets are considered property and their theft are treated the same way the theft of a mobile phone would.
Deputy Naughten wants the Government to address the growth in instances of thefts of pets.
“Pets are very much part of a family in homes across our country – sometimes the only friend to someone who is isolated or the guide for someone who is blind or has other sensory issues. This needs to be clearly reflected in much stronger legislation.
“Every day, Gardaí receive fourteen reports of an animal being lost or stolen, and with pets in high demand on the run-up to Christmas, there is a real fear that there will be a surge in such reports”.
Deputy Naughten wants the Government to use a new law currently before the Oireachtas, the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Bill, as a legal mechanism to have this law changed quickly in advance of Christmas.
He said that he wanted “the laws of this country to act as a real deterrent against this growing crime, and to make it clear that we will act to ensure that there are significant penalties for those who attempt to re-sell these pets”.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, responding to Deputy Naughten, gave a commitment to take the matter up directly with the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee.