The survey conducted by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne attracted almost 125,000 responses, with 96.9 per cent saying dog theft is a serious problem. It found that more than three-quarters of dog owners had grown more fearful of taking their dog for walks – especially at night.
Twenty-two percent said they knew someone who had had a dog stolen in the past year.
Sussex PCC Katy Bourne said: “Police forces across the country need a ‘flag’ for reports of dog theft on their systems as currently it is extremely difficult to track this crime trend and put in place an appropriate police response.
“Pets are part of people’s family and the devastating emotional impact of this crime should nolonger be overlooked.
“The Home Office have asked to discuss the findings and how we can develop measures that will protect people’s pets and boost public confidence. I will be exploring whether it is time to consider defining pet theft as a specific crime.”
The issue is so huge that Nottinghamshire Police has appointed a specialist officer to investigate canine crimes.
Chief Inspector Amy Styles-Jones who owns three Chihuahuas, has becomes Britain’s first ‘dog detective’.
She said: “As an animal lover myself I relish the prospect of ensuring we take a compassionate response to the developing situation in regards to dog theft and any animal cruelty.”
Meanwhile DogLost, a UK charity that helps victims of theft has recorded a 170 per cent increase in dog thefts in one year.
In 2019 172 dogs were reported stolen compared with 465 dogs in 2020.
READ MORE Dog found hundreds of miles from home after being stolen twice
Logan was taken from boarding kennels while Liz was in hospital receiving treatment.
The dognappers snatched Logan the Cockapoo are cutting a hole in an electric fence.
Thankfully with the help from Facebook organisation Beauty’s Legacy, Logan was spotted five later around 30 miles from the kennel.
Liz said; “He is a very timid, gentle natured dog and very much part of our family, I was beyond distraught when I learnt he had been taken because I’m aware that less than 25 per cent of stolen dogs are even returned to their homes,”
“The impact that this had on me is massive, it was tormenting wondering what Logan was experiencing and it haunts me even now.
“Campaigns like the ones that Beauty’s Legacy starts, with the help of the police and others, really puts the spotlight on the dogs that have been stolen and makes them ‘too hot for criminals to handle’.
“Logan was discarded and spotted by passers-by. This is a fantastic way to find stolen dogs but it’s not easy to track down the perpetrators.”
If you or someone you know has had a pet stolen you can find more information and help on the RSPCA website.