Dog owners are being warned about increasing cases of fashion breeds being robbed and sold off.
During lockdown, the popularity of puppies and dogs saw a significant increase. Unfortunately, this means that their value has soared and they have become a target for thieves.
Becky Thwaites, the head of public affairs at animal welfare charity Blue Cross, has described the situation as a ‘perfect storm’ as demand and value increases while availability declines. This has been attributed to the growing number of stolen dogs.
Research conducted by Thwaites had alarming results for dog owners, as there has been a 170% increase in reported pet thefts between 2019 and 2020. Additionally, only 1% of dog theft crimes led to a prosecution.
In an attempt to better handle dog thefts, the government is considering a new offence for pet abduction with its own sentencing framework. However, Thwaites is concerned with the impact these robberies are having on owners now.
Thwaites told The Guardian:
Unfortunately, pet theft isn’t always treated seriously and that can make the impact even worse, because you’re reporting a crime to police and its essentially treated the same as if your laptop is stolen. That just isn’t the reality of having a pet stolen.
The head of public affairs added, ‘A pet is not just a physical thing, it’s a member of your family. Having a pet stolen is extremely upsetting, can be very traumatic for the owner to go through.’
On top of the thefts, there has also been a rise in violent attacks, although Thwaites stressed they ‘are much rarer’.
Campaigners are also warning of increasing cases of thieves luring dogs out of gardens with treats, and stalking dog walkers on popular routes, or stealing them from outside shops. Thieves are also apparently targeting more affluent areas, and therefore more expensive breeds of dog. Thieves have even been said to simply clip a lead onto a loose dog and walk away.
To protect dogs and help track them it is recommended that dogs are microchipped and their walking routine is varied. It is also advised that dogs are not left unattended and identifying factors of the animal are not posted online. Campaigners also urge buyers to check the organisation they are purchasing a dog from.
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