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Owners too scared to walk dogs after unimaginable crimes committed across the UK

Owner walking black dog in street dog-angry
© Tatiana Rodriguez - Unsplash

Many dog owners admit to feeling too scared to walk their canine companions alone amid fears of dognapping as dog thefts have skyrocketed during the last year.

By Zoë Monk

Published on the 16/03/2021, 15:31

Realising your dog has been stolen is an owner's worst fear. While some dog owners are reunited with their beloved pups, many sadly don't ever see their pet again. 

According to a survey, dog owners are so worried about their dogs getting stolen that many are too scared to take their precious pup out for a walk alone.

170% rise in dognapping

Not surprisingly, dog thefts are the key issue worrying dog owners, and the figures make it even more alarming. In the last year, there has been a 170% rise in dog thefts. According to the charity DogLost, this equates to a jump from 172 dogs stolen in 2019 to 465 in 2020. 

Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne and Sussex Police commissioned the survey to gauge public opinion on the issue of dognapping. Almost 125,000 dog owners responded, with many saying they were so worried about thieves targeting their pups, they feel too scared to walk their dogs alone.

Ms Bourne is now urging police forces across the UK to flag up reports of dog thefts on the police system to make it possible to track trends so that the police can tackle the issue before it escalates any further.

Call for stiffer penalties

Dog owners and campaigners say that the current penalties handed out to dog thieves did not reflect the devasting impact this type of crime has on families. They believe dog thieves should receive much stiffer sentences than they currently do.

Remarkably, despite the devasting consequences of dog theft, it's not defined as a specific crime. Dogs come into the category of property under the Theft Act 1968. Dognappers currently face a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

In the battle against the dog thieves, the government has invested in 20,000 extra police officers and created a £20 million Safer Streets Fund to provide Police and Crime Commissioners with the extra cash they need to spend on tackling theft. 

Dog thefts mean it's never been more important to microchip your pet – find out why!

Keep your pup safe

There are some simple steps you can take to keep your dog safe:

  • Don’t leave your dog unsupervised, even in your garden
  • Don’t leave your dog tied up anywhere, even if you think you’ll only be a few minutes
  • Make sure your dog’s collar also has an ID tag
  • Don’t leave your dog alone in a car
  • Be on your guard if a stranger starts asking you questions when you are walking your dog
  • Vary when you take your dog for a walk and the routes you use
  • Make sure your dog is microchipped

See also: Most commonly stolen dog breeds revealed – how can you keep your pup safe?

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