Rise in dog thefts during lockdown, says charity

Springer spaniel Befa

Springer spaniel Befa will be rehomed by Dogs Trust after being seized by authorities at Dover - Credit: Beth Walsh photography

Lockdown has contributed to a rise in dog thefts, according to an animal welfare charity. 

The Dogs Trust said thefts of pets were at an all-time high, and called for changes to laws which it considers are too lenient on thieves.

Dogs Trust’s chief executive  Owen Sharp spoke to the Broadcast following the seizure of 27 dogs from a site in Braintree Road, Dunmow.

He said: “We understand that dog owners are increasingly concerned about dog theft. 

"Demand for dogs is at an all-time high and prices for some of the UK’s most desirable dog breeds are at their highest in three years, and possibly at an all-time high, with the costs for some dogs increasing month on month since lockdown began last year.  

 “Given the high demand for dogs in recent months and the increase in prices, it is no wonder criminals are taking advantage of the situation.  

 “Our dogs play such a huge and important part in our lives but sadly thousands are stolen each year, which is absolutely heart-breaking."

He said the current sentencing does very little to deter thieves and does not take into consideration how devastating it can be to have a dog taken from its owners.

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"Punishment for dog theft is determined by the monetary value of the dog, meaning perpetrators are often given fines which do not reflect the emotional impact of dog theft on the families involved.  

“We fully support any action to introduce tougher sentences that will act as a deterrent for those committing these crimes. At the very least, a community order or custodial sentence being given, rather than a fine.” 

Mr Sharp advises owners to secure their homes and gardens, and avoid leaving a dog on its own outdoors, unattended when going for a walk, and to always keep them in sight.

He also recommended training them to come back to their owners, even when distracted, and to ensure they are microchipped and contact details kept up to date.

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