Thanks to Daniel’s petition and pressure from campaigners, pet abduction in England is set to become a criminal offence for the first time. 

It’s been a growing problem and one that causes untold pain for heartbroken owners. Now, thanks to the work of Dr Daniel Allen and Debbie Matthews, as well as their fellow campaigners, pet abduction is about to be formally recognised as a crime. 

Dog theft in particular soared during the pandemic and campaigners were shocked to discover that prosecutions were impossible as the law still classes most pets as property. 

Daniel, an animal geographer at Keele University, decided to do something to reform the outdated legislation. 

He teamed up with Debbie, co-founder of the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (SAMPA) to launch a petition to have the law changed – working hard to notch up 100,000 signatures in just four months. 

In July 2021 the issue was debated in Parliament, and the government pledged to change the law to make pet abduction a crime.

He said: “When the government pledged five-year sentences for animal cruelty, it took over five years for legislation to actually be put in place. Think how many dogs could be stolen if we have to wait five years for this law to come into effect. It would simply be too long to wait.”

Debbie has been campaigning for a pet theft law since 2014 after her own dogs were stolen back in 2006. The 66-year-old was fortunate enough to be reunited with her two Yorkshire Terriers following a TV appeal alongside her father. But despite her story having a happy ending, Debbie hasn’t given up the fight to help other pet owners get the justice they deserve. “Campaigning is tough but worth every second when we get the results we all wanted!”

As well as founding SAMPA, she is also founder of Bruce Forsyth’s Vets Get Scanning Petition.