DOG thieves could be sent to prison for 10 months under new legislation currently being processed.
The Criminal Justice Theft and Fraud Offences Amendment Pets Bill 2020 has been drawn up by Aontú and is being supported by Independent TD Sean Canney.
Deputy Canney said: “In recent months we have seen reports of the theft and resale of family pets. We have also heard reports of pets being taken for breeding purposes. It has been reported that professional gangs can make big money from this type of theft.
“It has even been suggested that thieves may leave a mark on the road in chalk or by tying a piece of string to a garden gate to target those houses for theft after dark. I have been contacted by many devastated individuals in recent times whose pets have been stolen.”
He added: “The purpose of this bill is to provide for a mandatory minimum sentence for theft and certain related offences concerning pets.”
In recent months, there have been several dog thefts across the country, including some in Cork.
In September, eight terriers - five Patterdales, two Fells and one Fox terrier - were stolen from a property in Clondrohid. They were stolen after the kennels they were in were broken into.
Three months earlier, the same area was also targeted by dog thieves.
In that incident, three dogs were stolen from a backyard in a robbery in which the culprit broke down a door to get into the yard. Recently, ten dogs were discovered during a planned search in Rathkeale, and gardaí managed to reunite one with its owner in Dromcollogher in Limerick. The dog was stolen on June 9.
It is believed that gangs involved in dog theft follow the routine of dog owners to find out when is the opportune time to strike. Drones have been used in some instances by gangs targeting dogs, which now attract large sums of money because more people are buying puppies during the Covid-19 crisis.