Have your say on dog thefts

Dog owners in Cheshire are being invited to have their say on dog thefts by police and crime commissioner David Keane.

He is encouraging local residents to complete a new national survey which aims to gain a better understanding of public views on the issue.

It comes after a spate of high-profile incidents nationally with experts believing the huge hike in prices and demand for puppies that we’ve seen during the coronavirus pandemic is being exploited by criminals.

According to Dog Lost, the UK’s largest lost and found dog service, it is estimated thefts have risen by 250 per cent across the country.

In light of this, the government is reviewing the issue of pet theft, what future enforcement may look like and whether there should be potentially tougher penalties for offenders.

The survey asks dog owners if they have been a victim of dog theft and whether they are scared to carry out normal care duties for their pet, such as walking their dogs at night.  It also asks whether owners would support longer sentences for thieves.

Although the number of dog thefts reported in Cheshire is relatively small, Davis is urging pet owners to be on their guard.

He said: “Dogs and other pets are a huge part of our families and home lives. Losing a pet is like losing a loved one and it is particularly more tragic when there’s criminal activity involved.“We know that demand for dogs as pets has increased during the lockdown restrictions. The cost of some puppies is currently as high as £3,000, which unfortunately makes them a valuable asset to criminals.

“Penalties for dog thefts do not reflect the seriousness of the crime, with a maximum seven-year jail term and offenders very rarely receiving this type of sentence.

“Stealing a dog is an appalling crime and with this increase in thefts, now is the right time to discuss what more we can do to deter criminals from targeting our pets.

“The results of the survey will help determine the public’s fear of dog theft in Cheshire and whether there is support for tougher enforcement.

“I will be closely monitoring the results and discussing this issue with Cheshire Police and other PCCs nationally to ensure we can provide more protection.”

The 60-second survey will be open until 17:00 on Friday 12 March. To complete it, please visit:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/dogtheft

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