Sunday, 26 January 2014

Barking Blondes: Dog theft is on the rise

Joanne Good and Anna Webb
DSC 0171 283x300 Barking Blondes: Dog theft is on the riseDog theft has quadrupled in the last five years and this has led to over 45 dogs being stolen every day in the UK. What’s even more worrying is that it seems that dog napping now has a dark criminal element to it with dogs being stolen to order.
On our radio show this week we heard the horrifying tale of Scruncher, a seven-year-old British Bulldog, being stolen almost from under his owner’s eyes.
Out on their regular evening walk in Windsor, Scruncher’s owner stopped to scoop and “pick up” after their other bulldog Mr Bojangles. It was literally an action that took seconds but when he turned round Scruncher had gone.
Anyone familiar with the character of a seven-year-old British bulldog will know it’s not a breed that bolts. It also isn’t a preferred breed to steal.
But bulldogs are expensive and maybe a ransom was considered. Scruncher’s owners have taken this route on their walk at the same time for nearly seven years and it could be the kidnap was planned. By the way, Scruncher has bald patches on either side so he is fairly easy to identify.
Working and gun dogs are the most popular breeds targeted by thieves. The tragic case of Dawn Maws from Barnsley, whose working gundog, a German Shorthaired Pointer called Angel, was also stolen from right under her nose highlights the audacity of such opportunists and their calculating tactics.
Dawn had turned her back on Angel for only a couple of minutes, whilst loading her other dog into the car. This gave the thieves their chance to grab her prized Pointer. Completely devastated and distraught, Dawn re-mortgaged her house to offer a £10,000 reward for Angel, and launched a campaign for her safe return that hit the national press. Sadly despite all this and Angel being micro-chipped, she is still missing a year later.
Chihuahuas, Yorkies, Frenchies, Bulldogs and Staffies are all equally likely to be stolen. Recent statistics show that 49 per cent of dogs are snatched from their own gardens, and 13 per cent from peoples’ homes. We’ve even heard of a woman held at knife-point in her own home, whilst  her two French bulldogs were stolen in front of her.
Debbie Matthews set up the campaign Vets Get Scanning after her two Yorkies were stolen from her locked vehicle in a supermarket car park. Thanks to Debbie’s father, Bruce Forsyth, the Yorkies were returned, but only after a massive awareness campaign and their microchips.
Sometimes it’s hard to prove that your dog has been stolen or is simply lost, but the surge in cases has prompted mandatory micro-chipping for all dogs from April 2016 in an attempt to make all dogs traceable.
Help is at hand when your dog either goes missing on a walk, or is clearly stolen. An amazing organisation called Dog Lost operates nationally with a huge team of volunteers that use social media and posters to spread the word of a lost or stolen pet. There are even pet detectives who will take on a case and help track down a dog, providing hard evidence for the Police so they can step in.
The golden rule is to never leave your dog tethered outside a shop or in car that’s not in view. The worry for all us dog owners is that we’re being targeted and could be next on the list for a gang of very ‘organised’ criminals… and they call us a nation of animal lovers!
Barking Blondes’ by Anna Webb & Jo Good, published by Hamlyn, £12.99

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