A new bill in England and Northern Ireland will finally make stealing cats and dogs a separate criminal offense.

The Pet Abduction Bill, a significant step in recognizing animals’ emotional connection with their humans, was passed on the last day before Parliament’s recess. Under the new law, those convicted of abducting a dog or cat could be sentenced to prison for up to five years, according to the BBC.

This landmark legislation acknowledges that our animal companions are not mere possessions but cherished members of our families, far more valuable and irreplaceable than a television or microwave.

“I just find it unbelievable that we treat the loss of a living creature, a member of our family as if it is a power tool or a laptop,” Anna Firth, the bill’s author, said.

The law, set to be enforced in August 2024, is just the beginning. Plans are underway to extend the new protections to other animals, a move eagerly anticipated by many animal rights advocates and supporters. While the current jurisdiction of the law is limited to England and Northern Ireland, the hope is to ignite a wave of similar legislation in neighboring countries.

Clooney, a Siamese Cat and companion of Toni Clarke was stolen in 2013. Despite reporting it to the police, Clarke alleged they put little effort into searching for Clooney and bringing him home, even after two veterinarians scanned his chip.

“If the bill had been around, perhaps the police would have had more resources to investigate – and I might now have Clooney back in my arms,” Clarke lamented.

Cats and dogs are sentient beings that feel anxiety, fear, and stress, as well as the terror that comes with being taken from everything and everyone they know and love. While some animals are kidnapped because they’re an expensive or rare breed, others end up being used as dog fighting bait. No animal deserves the pain and helplessness that comes with being ripped from their home and family.

Lady Freethinker applauds British politician Firth for introducing the bill and all those who fought and rallied to get it passed.