Nottinghamshire Police becomes first force in the country to appoint dog theft lead

Nottinghamshire Police has become the first force in the country to appoint a dedicated specialist dog theft lead.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 2:14 pm

The move comes amid fears over the number of pets being stolen across the county – although there has been ‘no spike’ in thefts in Nottinghamshire.

Police chiefs say the new role will be carried out by a chief inspector who will focus on safety advice for owners and a ‘canine coalition’, which will involve working with organisations such as Guide Dogs for the Blind to tackle thefts as well as calling for tougher sentences to be handed down to thieves.

Nottinghamshire's Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Emma Foody, says a survey she carried out revealed dog owners are increasingly fearful over their pets’ safety and has backed the appointment.

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Nottinghamshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Emma Foody with her two dogs.

"There is growing alarm over the threat of dog theft both locally and nationally,” she said.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the support of Guide Dogs for the Blind in helping us highlight how serious this is, and I’m keen to work with other organisations to do what we can to prevent dog theft and disrupt the lucrative market that has emerged during the pandemic.

“As a dog owner myself, I am determined to fight for tougher penalties for those involved in this despicable crime.”

Tim Stafford, director of canine affairs at Guide Dogs, said the theft of a dog is ‘like the loss of a family member’ for owners.

“This year we have been informed of a couple of incidents when someone has attempted to take a guide dog from its owner,” he said.

"While such incidents are rare, we are concerned about how fearful our guide dog owners are of being a potential target at the moment.

“The law needs to change to stop dog theft from being a low-risk, high-reward crime.”

And Chief Constable Craig Guildford said the appointment sends a hard-hitting message to dog thieves.

“We want to prevent dogs being stolen in the first place, but we are also sending a message to those who seek to carry out this crime, that it is taken very seriously and we will come after you,” he said.

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