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Nottinghamshire Police has issued a warning to dog owners across Gedling borough following a rise in reports of dogs being stolen

Dog owners are being urged to be vigilant following the rise in incidents of dog thefts as criminals exploit the huge hike in prices and demand for puppies during the coronavirus restrictions.

Police say the best way to trace missing pets is through local social media posts, but when there is clear evidence a dog has been stolen then officers will investigate.

Dog owner James Ashworth is highlighting the plight of searching for a missing pet, after his Springer Spaniel recently vanished from her owner’s car boot. 

He began a social media campaign to help get his three-year-old dog home and it’s already been shared 7,000 times online.

James is appealing to anyone who has any information to come forward.

He said: “We live on a farm and Polly was asleep in the boot whilst I pottered about doing usual Saturday DIY jobs. 

“She’s a really calm dog, so don’t expect her to run off, she was just chilled.

“I then checked the car and she was gone. We were all so shocked and upset. There was five of us which spent hours looking for her around the area, but sadly no luck.

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“It’s really upset the whole family. We’re all devastated.

“We turned to social media to try and find her and I’ve been so surprised to see the whole community rally round and share the appeal. I’m still hopeful of a positive outcome.”

At the moment there is no evidence to suggest the dog has been stolen, but officers are appealing for anyone with information to come forward to see if that is the case.

Police Sergeant Christian Hurley said: “It was reported the three-year-old dog went missing on Saturday evening and we are appealing to anyone who saw anything suspicious to come forward.

“The English Springer Spaniel is brown and white in colour, has no collar, but is chipped with the owners details. 

“The dog’s owners are clearly upset about the incident, so if anyone can help or has any information on the whereabouts of Polly please call police on 101, quoting incident number 725 of 20 February 2021.”

Earlier this week Nottinghamshire’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Emma Foody launched a survey to gather views on dog theft in Nottinghamshire. 

She is inviting dog owners to complete a new survey to better understand public views on dog theft

The results of the survey will help determine the public’s fear of dog theft in Nottinghamshire and support for tougher enforcement.

Dog lover Mrs Foody, whose two dogs Boomer and Corona are currently reigning champions of the ‘Westminster Dog of the Year’ contest, said: “The increasing frequency of dog theft nationally is a cause for concern and it is vital we do what we can to deter this appalling activity.

“As a nation of dog lovers, this issue cuts across the political and judicial divide. There is growing justification for pet theft to become a more serious offence and quite simply, unless we make dogs too hot to handle and the penalty too high to risk, many more dog owners will face the pain and trauma of losing their beloved pets. 

“In reality, dog thieves rarely, if ever, receive the maximum seven-year jail term available. In any case, it does not reflect the seriousness of the crime. Dogs are part of the family and loss in such dreadful circumstances can take a lifetime to heal. 

“Across the county, we have seen unregistered litters discarded on roadsides and puppies used as bait for fighting through a lucrative organised criminal market that has no regard to welfare. These barbaric activities mean that we have to toughen the penalties for dog theft to deter those who simply don’t care about the animals and the heartbreak losing them causes to their families.”

Although the number of dog thefts reported in Nottinghamshire is relatively small, the Deputy PCC urged pet owners to be on their guard for criminals looking to take advantage of this new market.

To complete the survey visit: https://survey.alchemer.com/s3/6208995/Dog-Theft-Survey

Advice to owners for prevention

It’s heart-breaking for people when a loved family pet is stolen. 

Putting in place a few measures can help prevent pets from being stolen or becoming a target.

Dog owners should:

– Never leave pets tied-up unattended, such as outside shops for example.

– Make sure the dog is wearing a collar and ID tag when in a public place, as is now required to do by law. Include surname, telephone number, address and full post code and if there’s room, put ‘microchipped’ on the tag if the dog has a chip.

– Ensure the dog can be permanently identified by its microchip or tattoo. A microchip is normally sufficient to identify a pet if it does become lost or stolen.

– Ask their vet to check their dog’s microchip every year to ensure all details are accurate and up-to-date.

To find out more advice of how to protect dogs from thieves please visit: https://www.nottinghamshire.police.uk/advice/dogs/theft

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