Some 123 dogs were reported stolen in West Yorkshire last year, making it the third worst hotspot in the country for dog thefts, new figures suggest.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is urging dog owners to get their animals microchipped to make it easier for them to be traced in the event they are stolen.
West Yorkshire was listed behind Kent (128) and London (165) for the most dog thefts recorded by police in 2013. The figures were obtained from 39 of the 43 police forces across England and Wales by Shooting Times magazine.
Douglas Chalmers, the CLA’s regional director of policy and public affairs, said: “Dogs are targeted by thieves because they can easily make money selling them on, often for breeding or, most distressingly, for fighting. The Government is bringing in compulsory microchipping for all dogs from April 2016 but we would recommend that owners act sooner rather than later.”
West Yorkshire Police also advised dog owners to get their pets micro-chipped and to keep them indoors or in secure premises when left home alone.
Gundogs are a particular target in rural areas, pet advice service DogLost said.
Meanwhile, Pet Theft Awareness called for stronger penalties for those found guilty of stealing dogs.
Arnot Wilson, the charity’s co-founder, said: “We are seeking tougher penalties to deter dog theft and these are to include custodial sentences and the stealing of dogs to be prioritised over the theft of an inanimate object.”