Ashfield MP holds online session to discuss crackdown on dog thefts
Ashfield MP Lee Anderson and police chiefs have moved to reassure residents who say they are ‘afraid’ to walk their dogs amid fears they will be stolen.
It comes after the Conservative MP revealed how dog owners in the area had contacted him to raise concerns about their pets’ safety and a rise in dog thefts nationally.
Mr Anderson made his comments during a Facebook Live discussion about the subject with constituents, Nottinghamshire’s new Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry and Insp Mark Dickson.
Residents were able to participate in the meeting and put their questions directly to the commissioner. Issues included how big a problem dog theft is locally, what tactics criminals use and how pets can be kept safe.
Insp Dickson confirmed that dog theft is on the rise, with estimates showing that seven dogs nationwide were stolen a day in 2020 – a 170 per cent increase from 2019.
This was largely due to the sharp rise in demand for puppies during the pandemic, and the resulting surge in prices – with criminals seeing dog theft as an easy way to make a lot of money.
However, the Inspector was keen to reassure residents that across Ashfield dog thefts remain uncommon.
Since 2018, there has been six dog thefts in Nottinghamshire – all relating to domestic incidents when couples have separated.
Nottinghamshire is the first area in the country to appoint a dog theft lead, which heads up the county response.
A total of 12 officers work alongside the lead and analyse regional patterns and trends.
Victims’ personal statements will be sought in instances where pets are stolen with a push for the maximum sentence to be handed down.
Meanwhile, Mrs Henry pledged to do everything in her power to ensure pets are safe – with meetings set to be held with police to come up with a robust plan.
Janet Jago-Lee, from the Huthwaite Pet Rescue Centre, urged dog owners to do all they can to keep their dog safe. Getting a personal alarm, microchipping and not leaving dogs outside shops were all outlined.
Insp Dickson agreed that microchipping was vital, saying: “This is the best way to keep your dog safe but please remember to update your address if you move to a new house. Most vets will do a check when examining dogs, if stolen they will flag it up.”
The Government has recently set up a designated Pet Task Force, which is busy gathering evidence on the crime. As it stands, the crime is already carrying a possible prison sentence. The MP has also raised the matter in Parliament.
He said: “I think it’s really important to hold these meetings. Residents are really concerned about dog theft. Their dogs are part of the family. My dog, Alfie, means the world to me and I’d be devastated if he was taken.
"It’s good to know that the local police are working with the Police and Crime Commissioner to stamp this crime out in Nottinghamshire.”