Dog theft: Owners ‘scared’ of taking walks as incidents increase

Dog owners have become more scared of taking their pet for a walk in the last year
amid fears of ‘dognapping’, a survey has suggested.

Dog Theft

BBC News reports that almost 125,000 people responded to the survey organised by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne.

A large majority of those said dog theft was a “serious problem” and stiffer sentences were needed.

Ms Bourne said the Home Office had asked to discuss the findings. It is estimated dog thefts have risen by 250% nationwide following increased demand during the pandemic. But at present, dog theft is not defined as a specific crime, with dogs classed as “property” under the Theft Act 1968. Ms Bourne said she would be “exploring whether it is time” to change this.

Key findings of the survey were:

• 97% of respondents said dog theft was a serious problem
• 22% knew someone whose dog had been stolen in the last year
• 78% of people to whom the question was applicable, said they had grown more fearful of taking their dog for a walk during the day
• 83% to whom the question was applicable had grown more fearful of taking their dog for a walk at night

‘Living every day in fear’

Holly Morgan, 26, from Nottingham, had her dog stolen in August. She said having her dog stolen was “the worst, stressful and most heart-breaking situation” she had ever been through.

She was eventually reunited with her Cocker Spaniel Bud, who was found 130 miles away after 18 days.

Despite this, she said: “I am still living every day in fear that it will happen again. “I won’t walk my dogs by myself anymore, even in daylight, as I’m so petrified that they will be stolen from me.”

Ms Bourne said: “Pets are part of people’s family and the devastating emotional impact of this crime should no longer be overlooked.

“The Home Office have asked to discuss the findings… I will be exploring whether it is time to consider defining pet theft as a specific crime.”

(Story source: BBC News)

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