Dog owners act to keep their pets safe

Three quarters of dog owners have taken additional steps to safeguard their animals from thefts in recent months and a staggering 96 per cent are more aware than ever of the threat since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lockdown seems to have precipitated a rise in the theft of both pets and working dogs over the last year and this was clear from the results of the survey conducted in early April by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), with almost 3,500 responses.

Among the additional action owners admitted to were variations in routes taken and times of walks, reduced social media posting, extra security measures such as lighting and higher fences around gardens, forming dog walking ‘parties’ and wearing body cameras or carrying personal protection devices.

Alarmingly, 81 per cent also felt that the police do not have sufficient or the correct resources to tackle dog theft and, of those who said they had had a dog stolen – 111 people – there had only been one successful conviction to date.

Those surveyed also called for more police powers, the need to make dog theft a specific offence with tougher sentences, the return of dog wardens in busy areas and even the creation of a centralised national stolen dog database.

Kate Dymock, BASC’s gundog officer, said: “The responses clearly show that people are increasingly aware and concerned about the threat of dog theft.

“While the risk of dog theft remains low, its impact on individuals who fall victim to it can be devasting. The government needs to reassure the public that the necessary resources are made available to reduce the risk further and deter potential criminals.

“A rise in carrying personal protection devices shows the impact of dog theft is having on dog owners. The escalation of the situation is serious and concerning. The government and police need to get a handle of the situation quickly.”

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