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Devon and Cornwall Police are paving the way in the region by appointing a dedicated dog theft lead.
Chief Inspector Rob Curtis has been assigned to help tackle what is currently perceived as a rising crime.
There has been an increase in demand for dogs nationwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has inflated prices for puppies and dogs. Nationally, dog theft cases have increased by 170% in 2020.
There have been a number of dog theft stories circulating on social media, which has led to growing concern, amongst owners both locally and nationally.
Chief Inspector, Rob Curtis wants to reassure people that Devon & Cornwall Police take dog theft very seriously, saying: “Theft of a beloved pet causes major distress to the owners. Although dog theft is very rare, we want owners to be aware and to take safe precautions to help protect their dogs from this crime. At home make sure your garden is secure, try not to leave your dog outside unattended, be careful of bogus callers or displaying signs that say, ‘my poodle lives here’."
Microchipping is a legal requirement and essential to helping returning pets to their owners.
Chief Inspector Curtis urges all owners to visit their vet and have their pet microchipped with all contact details kept up to date in the event of moving home or changing a phone number. In addition to the appointment of a Force lead, Devon & Cornwall Police now have 30 microchip scanners, some of which have been donated by Dog Lost to help reunite dogs with their families.
This is another step towards helping tackle dog theft.
What to do if your dog goes missing
It’s important to establish if your dog has been stolen or has got lost. If your dog has gone missing from your garden, it usually won’t wander far. Check with your neighbours and ask them to check their gardens and garages. If you still cannot find your dog, check with the local dog warden, tell the microchip company your dog is missing and call local vets and rescue centres.
If your dog is being stolen and someone has physically taken your dog from you, shout that your dog is being stolen and attract attention. If you can take photos or videos and report it to the police by calling 999. If there are any witnesses nearby, ask for their contact details and report your missing dog to the microchip company.
There is more information on our website that will give you more information and places to go for help: dc.police.uk/dogsafety
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* The information contained on this page is correct to the best of our knowledge, if you notice anything that you know to be incorrect or misleading, please contact us.