Dog theft is on the rise in Yorkshire due to hiked puppy prices and Google searches for dogs during lockdown.
Figures from earlier this year show that reports of dogs being stolen in Yorkshire have increased by 27 per cent and Google searches for ‘buy a puppy’ increased by 115 per cent.
Yorkshire based breeder and owner of puppy training company The Puppy Master, based in Pontefract, Clare Andrusyk, said that there have been 63 reports of stolen dogs across her social media groups since November due to the ‘Puppy Pandemic Boom’.
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“We get hundreds of emails a day from people desperate to have a dog,” said Ms Andrusyk.
“Lockdown caused many people to be lonely and they think now is the time to get a dog.
“It’s very rare for people to find their dogs again. It’s like losing a family member, for some people it’s their only form of friendship.”
Dachshund prices went up from £973 to £1,681 and Chow Chow prices rose 134 per cent from March to October 2020 according to The Dogs Trust. Cockapoo puppies are currently online for around £3000.
“These pages online make it so easy for people. They’re not vetted in any way. It is my absolute belief that if we didn’t have online sales platforms like Pets4homes and Gumtree we wouldn’t have this problem, because it would be nearly impossible for people to buy dogs online.”
Ms Andrusyk said that more than half of cases are dogs stolen from their gardens in Yorkshire and she has some tips to help people prevent dog thefts: “My number one tip would be to never walk your dog at the same time at the same place every day.”
She added that changing your dog walking routine is very important as it is likely walkers are being monitored if they have desirable dogs.
Installing house alarms and making sure your dog is always supervised can also help to prevent thefts.
The West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson OBE is calling for owners and victims of dog theft to fill in a survey so that the police can assess the true extent of the crime.
Dogs Trust’s Veterinary Director Paula Boyden said: "Given that the prices for pups have shot up significantly in recent months, it is no wonder criminals are continuing to cash in on such a lucrative market.
"Action needs to be taken immediately, as too many puppies are suffering at the hands of cruel traders and too many dog lovers are being left to pick up the pieces. Every day of Government delay leads to preventable suffering for puppies and dogs."
The PCC’s survey can be accessed here and closes on Friday 14th March: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/dogtheft