Dog owners are being urged to be on their guard following a spate of dog thefts across the country.
Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping said dognapping is a growing problem in other parts of the UK – and called for Nottinghamshire owners to remain vigilant and not to take unnecessary risks.
Nationally, more than 1,700 dogs were stolen during 2016 – five pets a day. The figure is up 19 per cent in comparison to 2014 when almost 1,500 thefts were reported, according to recent figures by Direct Line Pet Insurance.
Eight in ten stolen dogs are never returned to their owners. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is currently the most stolen breed and experts believe the rise is due to an increase in illegal puppy breeding.
Mr Tipping said: “Dogs are man’s best friend. The impact of this type of crime is devastating and leaves an unbearable sense of loss and heartache with everyone involved.
“While Nottinghamshire doesn’t appear to be any worse affected than other parts of the country, you only have to look on social media to know than dognapping nationally is a much bigger problem than figures suggest with many owners not reporting the thefts to police. “For this reason I would urge dog owners in Nottinghamshire to stay on their guard and remain alert to the dangers.”
Mr Tipping went on to offer advice to local pet owners.
He said: “You can reduce the risk by ensuring your home is secure, never leaving dogs unattended in a public place or a locked-up car and making sure garden gates have a robust locking system. Pedigree dog owners are at particular risk because of the high selling on value associated with these breeds.
“It’s also now the law to ensure your animals are microchipped to increase the chance of being reunited with a stolen pet should the worse happen. Importantly, always report the theft to the police.”
People have also been urged to report stray dogs to the local council or dog warden.
A Nottinghamshire police spokesman added: “Only approach a dog if it is safe to do so, for both yourself and the dog, to check if it is wearing a tag. Local vets and rescue centres will also be willing to help any dog found wandering the streets.
“We would also urge owners to be vigilant when leaving dogs outside shops or in an unsupervised garden, as this gives opportunity to determined thieves.”
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Anyone with information on the problem should contact Nottinghamshire Police on 101.