Dog thefts: Pet owners heartbreak as seven pups stolen

Dog thefts: Pet owners heartbreak as seven pups stolen

Genna George hoped to sell seven border collie puppies for £950 each – but three weeks ago, they were stolen.

Demand for dogs has risen in lockdown and the value of pups like Ms George’s has increased by £700 inside a year.

Police have warned of a spike of animal thefts and the Dog Lost charity said the number of stolen dogs in the UK has nearly tripled in the past 12 months.

Now one Welsh police force has taken the step to create a task force after 80 stolen dogs were rescued last month.

Dyfed-Powys Police found more than 80 dogs – said to be worth tens of thousands of pounds – thought to have been stolen during raids in Carmarthenshire and Briton Ferry in Neath Port Talbot.

Four arrests have been made and 28 have been returned to their owners, with the people bailed as officers investigate.

Police are also investigating a number of dog thefts, as well as an incident on the coastal path at Llanelli, where two men threatened an owner with a knife and tried to take his pet “by force”.

Ms George described border collie Catrin as her “best friend”, who had first litter of four puppies in January 2020, which were given to family and friends.

Catrin had seven more in February this year – but these were taken from the kennel they were in with their mother.

“I blame myself… in the back of my mind, I thought I could have done more to protect them,” said Ms George from Ceredigion.

“We feel pretty safe in Cardigan, you don’t expect it to happen.”

The value of puppies has sky-rocketed, partly driven by people wanting to buy a pet during lockdown.

The Kennel Club is also calling for tougher penalties to deter thefts – with a maximum jail term currently seven years.

Dyfed-Powys Police has now appointed a chief inspector to head the task force and collect information after a number of incidents in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

Briton Ferry is in the South Wales Police force area and its officers have also warned owners to be vigilant.

“We do take reports of stolen dogs very seriously and recognise the impact this can have on the victim and the dog itself,” Ch Insp Nia Hughes said.

“While there is a lot of concern in the community it is important to stress the number of thefts reported to us in our force area is still relatively low.

“It is essential people report any thefts of dogs to us as soon as possible and provide as much detail as they can.”

She said she did not want to “overly alarm” dog owners, adding: “We do not want to overly alarm dog owners but it is important that particularly those who are breeding puppies, do take some basic crime prevention measures to protect their pets.

“We also urge people who are buying a dog or puppy to follow advice and make sure they are not buying a stolen animal.”

One pet that “dognappers” did not manage to take, though, was 20-week-old collie Rose, with pub landlord and former amateur boxer James Cosens fighting them off.

Dyfed-Powys Police task force is investigating after the two attackers threatened to stab him when he would not hand over his pet on the Millennium Coastal Path near Llanelli earlier this week.

The Home Office warns that pet theft is a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

“Losing a much loved family pet can cause great distress and it’s a sad fact that criminals will seek to profit by this vile crime,” said Policing Minister Kit Malthouse.

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