"In 2017, the risks and sadness of pet theft was always on my mind. I tried to share as many missing and stolen dog posts as possible from my Twitter account @Dr_Dan_1; but started to feel helpless at the scale of the problem and increasingly upset for the families involved.

The thought of someone taking Rupert the chocolate Labrador from Louise and I, was also unbearable. I reached out to SAMPA, offered to help shine a light on their tireless campaigning, and suggested collaborating on a new pet theft petition to make the government take this emotional crime seriously.

On Thursday 8 February 2018 our new government petition to ‘Reclassify the theft of a pet to a specific crime in its own right’ was published. The petition also calls to reclassify the theft of a pet to a specific crime, review the sentencing guidelines for theft offences, and ensure police forces are given appropriate guidance and training to record and investigate cases.

Public support has been amazing! The petition reached 10,000 signatures in the first 36 hours, 20,000 in the first week, and thanks to the kindness of strangers, support for the petition continues to grow. The aim now is to reach the 100,000 signatures required to trigger a debate in Parliament.

If you agree that pets are family, not property, and you think it is time that pet theft is treated as a serious crime, please support our pet theft campaign, please sign the petition and please share with your friends. Your support is and will be very much appreciated. Together, as a collective voice, we can make a difference."

Dr Daniel Allen, Animal Geographer