Families have been left devastated after eight dogs, including a black Labrador, two cocker spaniels and five English springer spaniels have been reported stolen from a kennel in Wilden.
The theft, which took place on Sunday (13 September), is among reports of a number of recent attempted dog thefts in the region.
Bedfordshire Police is asking the public to be wary of this new wave of crime across the county.
Melissa Cole, the owner of Jess and Tig, two of the stolen springer spaniels said, “It is devastating for our whole family to lose these much-loved pets and gun dogs to these callous thieves, they will be so scared and bewildered, we just want them home is all.
“We are offering a reward for their return or if anyone has any information please contact me via Facebook or call Bedfordshire Police on 101.
“Ours were not the only dogs taken on the night, so please be vigilant for either dogs that look like they are unhappy or scared with the people they are with, or large groups of dogs making lots of noise or clearly distressed, you may be able to help reunite them with their families.
“If the people who took Jess & Tig are reading this, please don’t hurt our dogs, please just return them to us, we love them very much.”
Inspector Craig Gurr, from the force’s Rural Crime Team, said, “This is an absolutely devastating crime that impacts people and families, and unfortunately we have seen an increase in these reports during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The demand for puppies has increased as people are starting to work from home and other social distractions are limited. This demand has created a surge in puppy thefts, as the price of dogs has almost doubled in some cases.
“If anyone was in the Wilden area on Sunday or have recently seen advertisements containing any of the dogs mentioned for sale, please get in contact and report these to us using our online reporting tool.”
Bedfordshire Police is working with other forces across the eastern region, UK Pet Detectives, DogLost and Pets4Homes to tackle this type of criminality, and recently helped to reunite a dog with its owner after it was suspected to have been stolen from the Manchester area.
This was a result of working with DogLost charity, which assists in the search for missing dogs and has kindly donated two microchip scanners to the force’s rural team. These can now be used to identify stray or recovered dogs, or other animals, and items, like saddles, that have a microchip.
All dog lovers are asked to help to spread this safety message in order to prevent much loved pets being targeted by criminals.
To discourage offenders please don’t buy dogs from social media sites or from anyone who cannot provide appropriate documentation.
Before purchasing your dog make sure you check the proof of ownership, health check and pedigree papers. Additionally, ask to see the puppy in its home environment with its mother.
To minimise the chance of becoming a victim yourself, please make sure that you are following safety advice:
- Be vigilant and cautious of suspicious individuals or markings seen around addresses, any cold callers and strangers approaching you whilst out dog walking
- Ensure your dog is microchipped and registered with up to date information and has a collar and dog tag (use your surname rather than the dog’s name and your telephone contact)
- Take plenty of clear photographs of your pet and especially of any distinctive markings
- Never leave a dog unattended in the garden, in the car or outside shops
- Don’t give details of your pets, your location or your favourite walking spots on social media and make sure your security settings are set to friends only
- When out, always know where your dog is. Be mindful of anyone who may be trying to distract your attention from your dog or attract your dog’s attention away from you
- Avoid leaving dogs in outside kennels if at all possible. If not possible then make sure the kennels are alarmed – experience tells us padlocks alone will not stop thieves
- Ensure all gates are locked at top and bottom with a shoot bolt and padlock and consider fitting a bell or gate alarm
- Ensure the garden or yard boundary (fence, hedge, etc) is secure so that no one can gain entry or pull your dog out. Ensure the dog cannot escape through any gaps
- Consider driveway alarms to alert you to intruders and combine this with the use of monitored CCTV that will alert you via your phone or tablet instantly
- For more rural locations, think about uWatch, a multi-purpose security device that does not require WiFi or additional lighting
- A list of all licensed breeders is available on your local authority’s website
- If your dog has been stolen – report it to Bedfordshire Police by visiting its online reporting centre or by calling 101. You can also contact your local authority dog warden
- Notify your microchip database provider immediately and advise Doglost.co.uk either via their website or Facebook page who can offer help, support and advice.
Bedfordshire Police will support anyone wishing to set up a local DogWatch group – please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.