Nottinghamshire’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Emma Foody is inviting dog owners to complete a new survey to better understand public views on dog theft.
The new survey comes after a spate of high-profile incidents nationally leading experts to believe criminals are exploiting the huge hike in prices and demand for puppies during the coronavirus restrictions.
The Home Secretary Priti Patel is now reviewing pet theft nationally and considering additional options for enforcement including harsher penalties for offenders.
The results of the survey will help determine the public’s fear of dog theft in Nottinghamshire and support for tougher enforcement.
It asks dog owners whether they have been personally impacted by dog theft and whether they have become more fearful of walking their pet at night. It also gauges support for longer sentences for thieves.
Dog lover Mrs Foody, whose two dogs Boomer and Corona are currently reigning champions of the ‘Westminster Dog of the Year’ contest, said: “The increasing frequency of dog theft nationally is a cause for concern and it is vital we do what we can to deter this appalling activity.
“As a nation of dog lovers, this issue cuts across the political and judicial divide. There is growing justification for pet theft to become a more serious offence and quite simply, unless we make dogs too hot to handle and the penalty too high to risk, many more dog owners will face the pain and trauma of losing their beloved pets.
“In reality, dog thieves rarely, if ever, receive the maximum seven-year jail term available. In any case, it does not reflect the seriousness of the crime. Dogs are part of the family and loss in such dreadful circumstances can take a lifetime to heal.
“Across the county, we have seen unregistered litters discarded on roadsides and puppies used as bait for fighting through a lucrative organised criminal market that has no regard to welfare. These barbaric activities mean that we have to toughen the penalties for dog theft to deter those who simply don’t care about the animals and the heartbreak losing them causes to their families.”
The charity DogLost has seen reports of thefts rise by 170% in the past year from 172 dogs in 2019 to 465 in 2020.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council is warning criminals are exploiting the huge hike in prices and demand for puppies during the coronavirus restrictions.
Although the number of dog thefts reported in Nottinghamshire is relatively small, the Deputy PCC urged pet owners to be on their guard for criminals looking to take advantage of this new market.
To complete the survey visit: https://survey.alchemer.com/s3/6208995/Dog-Theft-Survey