Dog Theft - As concerns about dog theft soar following the surge in pandemic puppy buying, new research shows a shocking failure to tackle a crime that is devastating 189 families every month, with only two per cent of cases resulting in a criminal charge. The statistics, gathered by The Kennel Club through Freedom of Information requests to the 45 police forces in the UK to which 35 responded, show that there were an estimated 2,279* cases of dog theft in 2020, which is an 8 per cent increase on 2019 (2,118). This amounts to more than 189 dogs being stolen, to the heartbreak of their owners, every single month. However, based on the 26 police forces that gave answers on dog theft outcomes in 2020, only two per cent of all dog theft cases in the UK led to a suspect being charged, and these were almost entirely bought in by the Metropolitan Police (nine per cent of all cases dealt with) and Kent police (one per cent of all cases dealt with).
Be Puppywise - Mark Beazley Kennel Club Chief Executive (East of Country VR)
KENNEL CLUB EXPOSES ‘DANGEROUS’ VIRTUAL PUPPY BUYING WORLD AND URGES REVERSAL OF PANDEMIC BAD HABITS
If you want to #BePuppywise, it's important to get your puppy from a responsible breeder. There are many fantastic, passionate dog breeders out there who want to produce happy, healthy puppies. However, there are also other individuals who put profit before health and welfare, keeping their dogs in poor conditions and producing puppies that are unhealthy and may eventually require expensive veterinary treatment.
We advise puppy buyers to go to The Kennel Club Assured Breeders. Members of this scheme all agree to follow good breeding practices and are inspected to maintain and guarantee standards. When searching for a puppy, our assured breeders will appear first on our Find a Puppy service and they will have the scheme's logo next to their name. You can search by area and your chosen breed. You can also browse the full list of The Kennel Club Assured Breeders.
Bill Lambert - Head of Health & Welfare - 2021 Pet Theft Campaign
As concerns about dog theft soar following the surge in pandemic puppy buying, new research shows a shocking failure to tackle a crime that is devastating 196 families every month, with only two per cent of cases in 2020 resulting in a criminal charge.
The statistics, gathered by The Kennel Club through Freedom of Information requests to the 45 police forces in the UK to which 36 responded, show that there were an estimated 2,355* cases of dog theft in 2020, which is a 7 per cent increase on 2019 (2,199). This amounts to more than 196 dogs being stolen, to the heartbreak of their owners, every single month.
However, based on the 27 police forces that provided data for dog theft case outcomes in 2020, only two per cent of all dog theft cases in the UK led to a suspect being charged. These were almost entirely brought in by the Metropolitan Police (nine per cent of all cases dealt with by the force) and Cheshire Constabulary (two per cent of all cases dealt with by the force).
In 2020, no suspect was identified in more than half (54 per cent) of reported dog theft cases and three per cent of cases were dismissed as not being in the public interest. In more than a quarter (27 per cent), a suspect was identified but nothing further was done due to ‘evidential difficulties’.
The statistics are revealed 79 days after the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce was established (8 May) to help tackle the issue – in which time another 508 dogs have been stolen. The Kennel Club is urging more transparent recording of pet theft on a central database, so that underlying causes of dog theft can be tackled, and for the emotional value of dogs to be recognised in sentencing.
“Dog theft has devastating consequences for both the owners and the pets involved and it is quite frankly jaw dropping that 98 per cent of cases never result in a criminal charge, and in more than half no suspect is ever identified,” said Bill Lambert, Health, Welfare and Breeder Services Executive at The Kennel Club.
“Not only that, but when a suspect is found and sentenced, dog theft is often treated no more seriously than a petty crime, despite the fact that there is nothing ‘petty’ about pet theft.
“Whilst thankfully most people will never be unfortunate enough to fall victim to this crime, those that do are left totally bereft but without a clear route to justice. We welcome the Government taking this issue seriously and hope that the Taskforce can deliver meaningful change in England and Wales; giving greater transparency in how we report and record this crime, and delivering more proportionate sentences that treat dog theft with the seriousness it deserves. This is needed across the UK – from the Scottish Government and Northern Irish Executive too.”
Amongst the actions being called for as part of The Kennel Club’s ‘Paw and Order: Dog Theft Reform’ campaign is for more resources to be allocated to this crime and for more transparent, centralised collection of data about pet theft, including the number of crimes, arrests and convictions. Currently, there is no central record in order to help decision-makers understand the scale of the problem or the circumstances around it – for example, whether a theft was driven by opportunism or organised crime.
The Kennel Club is also calling for a reclassification of how dog theft is treated in the law, as currently sentences place undue weighting on the monetary value of the pet rather than giving sufficient weight to the emotional impact of the crime. This means it is often treated in the same way as the theft of a laptop or mobile phone, rather than as a category one offence, which carries a maximum of seven years in prison in England and Wales.
Dog owners are reminded that they are unlikely to fall victim to this crime but there are steps they can take to help keep their dogs safe.
Louise Rayner & Ted- 2021 Pet Theft Campaign
Louise Rayner’s beloved dog, Ted, was stolen from her garden in New Malden, Surrey, in June 2021:
“Ted was stolen from my back garden in June this year, my gate had been broken and he was gone.
“I've advertised all over social media, posting countless times a day. I've rang local vets, dog wardens, the police, and have even set up a Go Fund Me page to help with a reward to get him back, I’m desperate to get him home.
“Ted is part of my family, I'm disabled and he is my little companion. The first two weeks after he was stolen, I cried day and night. I didn't sleep more than four hours a day, I couldn’t, and I still don’t sleep most nights because I’m so worried and it’s all I can think about. Has he been hurt? Has he been left to die somewhere? My brain can’t shut down, it just thinks of all the bad things that could be happening to him. I cry constantly, I suffer from depression and Ted being taken has taken it to an all time low.
“Someone purposely broke my back gate and stole a part of my family with no thought of the devastation it has caused us. I honestly can’t describe the amount of heartbreak we have felt since.
“I have heart problems that have since worsened because I'm not sleeping and am so stressed about Ted. My daughter’s little dog is missing him too, she has started to bark constantly.
“The laws around pet theft must change - dogs are not an inanimate object, they're living breathing things that can show and feel love, feel pain, and they miss their owners. They are part of the family, and to some they're like their child. They can’t be replaced like an object.
“Criminals who steal dogs should face a prison sentence and the laws must be strengthened. Dog theft is a big thing now – the police say it's easier money than selling drugs and with no risk of prison. If it isn’t stopped now, and the Government don’t take action, dog theft and the heartbreak it brings with it, will become an even bigger problem.
“Someone has kidnapped a member of our family. All I want is Ted to be home.”
Jo Powell & Ivy - 2021 Pet Thef Campaign
Jo and Robert Powell’s beloved Bulldog puppy Ivy, from Stroud, was stolen in early 2021
“Ivy was staying with our son in Kentish Town London for a couple weeks. She was stolen from his living room – the thieves came over the garden fence and broke into the house through doors that connect the house and the garden.
“Ivy was still a puppy, she was seven months old when she was taken.
“The police were called as soon as our son discovered that Ivy was gone, but we didn’t receive much support from them initially. To bring Ivy home we started a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter.
“It has been devastating experience for us. We have been worried sick of her fate, how is she being cared for, whether she is neglected or used for breeding. She also had problem with her eye which would be very sore and might be in need of urgent treatment to prevent her from going blind.
“The police did offer more help, assigning us a senior investigator and creating a MET police appeal video for her case, but there has been no leads so far.
“It’s a terrible experience. We imagine the worst, and the frustration and worry escalates. It’s causing stress between us as a family, our youngest children keep asking where Ivy is and if our other dog – George – misses her. It’s constant heartbreak and we can’t do anything to change the situation. We can’t move on with our lives for fear and guilt of enjoying ourselves at all when she could be suffering.
“The law around pet theft definitely needs to change, it is crime that needs to be taken more seriously, with tougher sentencing. Dogs are not just a possessions, you don’t just get over it and buy a new one. Pet theft is an abduction of a loved family member.
“We just want Ivy back, and to take care of her as her family.”
Freya Woodhall & Willow - 2021 Pet Theft Campaign
Willow was stolen from Freya’s back garden, in Shropshire, in September 2018 and hasn’t been found since
“Willow was stolen from our back garden almost three years ago and we’ve had no clues or sightings since.
“We believe the thieves accessed our garden from our side gate or front garden. Our other dog was found in the garden left alone which was very unusual because at the time she was a puppy and would follow Willow everywhere.
“We are a family of six, and Willow’s disappearance broke all of our hearts. We have been living in limbo ever since we lost her, tirelessly searching for her, and working hard to raise awareness not only about Willow’s case but about the devastating effects of dog theft on their owners and families.
“We set up a Facebook page and Willow’s case was mentioned in MP petition committee debates about the issue.
“Pet theft is rife and heartbreaking. I thought that it could never happen, I thought our house and garden was safe and then Willow disappeared. Sadly, it happens all the time.
“She was my shadow and best buddy, she went everywhere with me and I feel lost and helpless without her.
“I believe the law around pet theft and sentencing needs to be changed as the current legislation is outdated – it is more than 50 years old! The current laws are in no way deterrent and I hope that the petitions that have been debated in the Parliament will become law very soon.
“We had no leads since Willow disappeared almost three years ago, but we are not going to give up on her until she’s home.”
Kim McCalmont - CRUFTS 2020 BEST IN SHOW
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Excellent interview Pauline D'Rane.