By Abi Bates
A WEST YORKSHIRE kennel owner has issued a warning to pet owners as dog theft continues to rise.
In June 2016 the rise in dog theft was up 22% since 2014, with offenders being known to target specific breeds to make money.
Social media has become a big part of highlighting the issue with many groups on Facebook such as Lost and Found pets in Leeds UK dedicated to sharing posts about lost pets, yet the number is still rising and more pet owners are becoming worried.
Craig Marsden, 41, owner of Oakenshaw Boarding Kennels, said: “One thing that stands out about dog thefts is that most are stolen from people’s gardens. Do not leave your dogs unattended anywhere.
“I have had to tell staff in supermarkets many a time to request the owner of the dog tied up outside to go attend to it, I have advised them of the risks of dog thefts, people leave them in cars whilst shopping as well and depending on the breed theives will happily smash a window to take the dog.”
Smaller dogs are popular as they are less likely to fight back, however recently there has been a high demand for larger breeds.
Emily Lyall, 20, from Headingley, has experienced the devastation of losing her family pet seven times, the last incident was in 2015.
She said: “A total of seven dogs have been stolen from my home over a period of three years. Each time they were taken from our back garden apart from one where they dragged them through the cat flap, they used tools to open the kennels.
“Now we have cameras secured inside and outside our door which alert us if something happens and we aren’t in.”
Andy Smith, 46, from Bradford had his dog stolen when out on a walk but after three months of searching he finally got Murphy back.
Andy added: “You must get your dogs chipped and have a collar on them with a dog tag with your number and postcode, at least. Don’t leave them tied outside shops, it only takes a second to steal them.”
When Murphy went missing, Andy had support of celebrities such as Dynamo, Dermot O’Leary, Claire King and Natalie Anderson.
Andy’s missing dog website, Murphy’s Army, also won a international award for dog enthusiasts at the House of Lords. Murphy was eventually recovered in Manchester.
Why are dogs stolen?
There are many reasons why a dog might be stolen. A lot of people who steal dogs hold them ransom until the owners pay them money to get them back.
Many dogs are taken for bating which is when dogs are trained to fight each other for the entertainment of people watching.
Other dogs are occasionally taken if they are a particular type of breed and sold on in order to make money.
Often people sell the dogs through the internet in a hope to make more money.
Some dog nappers also take dogs to keep as their own, this is emotionally-driven theft and often happens when people can’t afford their own dogs.
Danger signs: how to spot if a thief is scoping your dog
There are many things dog owners should look out for to prevent these kinds of crimes from happening. If strangers are hanging around the area or looking into people’s gardens this can be a indicator of dog theft, especially during the summer when it’s warm weather and doors are open.
You should also be aware of dog nappers hanging around car parks looking into windows. Many dog thefts have occurred when people smash windows in order to take a dog.
Another sign which has become popular in the past few years is seeing chalk or pen on garden walls and houses, this is organised crime and indicates which houses contain dogs which they can steal at a later date.