Dog theft is on the increase in Britain, with a freedom of information request from Direct Line Insurance showing that five dogs were reported stolen every day last year.
Contributing to the rising numbers is the growing popularity of 'designer' breeds such as the French Bulldog. A price tag of over £1,000 for dogs like this makes them an obvious target for the dognappers.
In April, French bulldog Bella was taken from the designated dog area at the National Motor Museum in Hampshire. After the culprits were caught on CCTV, Bella was luckily handed in to vets 70 miles away in Windsor.
Last year, nearly 2000 dogs were reported stolen. That compares with 1788 in 2016 – a jump of nearly 7%. That 2016 figure was 14% higher than in 2015.
It seems that French Bulldogs are a common target. Their dramatic looks have made them popular with celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, The Rock, Lady Gaga and Madonna. Last year, 61 were taken – an increase of 27% from 2016.
Chihuahua and Husky owners should also be on their guard. In 2017, 57 and 18 respectively were stolen.
Staffordshire bull terrier was the most common breed stolen Staffordshire bull terrier was the most common breed stolen in 2017
However, the most commonly stolen breed of dog is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and there’s been a spike in the theft of popular crossbreeds such as Cockapoos and Puggles.
Head of Pet Insurance at Direct Line, Prit Powar, said: "The rise in popularity of 'designer' dog breeds among celebrities and the 'fashion' for certain types of dogs means people are willing to pay thousands for an animal, which unfortunately makes them prime targets for thieves.
"Pedigree owners need to be especially vigilant.
"There is no excuse for the theft of an animal but some of the reasons behind dog theft include using the animal for dog fighting, breeding or selling on."
The Metropolitan Police recorded the most stolen dogs last year, with 225 reports. That was followed by West Yorkshire at 172 and Kent with 160.
On a positive note, statistics also showed that the number of dogs returned to their homes in 2017 rose from 365 to 388. That means there’s a one in five chance of a dog being reunited with its owner.
Luckily some people are reunited with their dogs
5 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR DOG SAFE
Microchips are now law in the UK. Ensure your dog is microchipped and remember to keep your contact details updated.
2 ID Tag
Your dog should always wear a collar and identification tag with YOUR name and contact details,
3 Safe shopping
Avoid leaving your dog outside a shop. You wouldn’t leave a baby in a pram, would you?
4 Car wise
It’s wise not to leave your alone dog in a car. They can overheat on a warm day very quickly, too.
5 Vary walks
Walk in different places and use a variation to your routes.
Use common sense plus follow the UK laws about dog ownership to minimise the risks and enjoy the rewards that owning a dog brings.