The UK is experiencing an increase in dog thefts by a third over the past two years with the more fashionable breeds particularly at risk. There is also an increase in what is called “theft by finding”. This is when people who claim to have innocently found or acquired a dog or cat wait until posters appear which offer a reward and then demand cash for the companion animal’s return.
I’m concerned that the increase in theft of expensive dogs will spill over into an increase in thefts of expensive cats. There is not much difference in respect of their value.
In China, the public are gradually becoming more aware of pet theft for the cat and dog meat trade. A couple of dog thieves were caught:
This is not British justice and I don’t condone it but it is a good sign that the tide is perhaps turning on the cruel and barbaric dog and cat meat trade. This is the Daily Mail story.
You may have heard about the violent theft last weekend of a lilac bulldog which had a price tag of £16,000. The person who stole the dog posed as a potential buyer and then, when he was in the home, he simply grabbed the dog and forced his way out of a home and into a car waiting for him. It was that easy.
Dog owners are particularly at risk because they may employ a dog walker who is in charge of several animals. A dog walker is exposed to the violent theft of any of the dogs at any time. Also dogs are far more commonly purebred and therefore more expensive.
In another case of a dog theft, Nicola Shepherd was walking ‘Winston’ her chihuahua in north-west London when a thief simply scooped up her dog and ran off. The gang (note a gang was involved) then threatened to shoot the dog if she failed to handover the full £1,000 “reward”.
I am highlighting the word “gang”. This is because I believe that gangs of thieves are targeting pets as easy money. This is a new phenomenon in the UK in my opinion. e did not have gangs of thieves preying on pet owners in the past. There appears to be an increasing gang criminality in the country and I wonder whether it is in any way linked to opening our borders to the new European Union countries?
The domestic cat is less of a target than the domestic dog because, as mentioned, a lot of domestic cats are random bred cats with little commercial value (but with a high emotional value). However, there is a significant number of purebred cats in the UK who are allowed to go outside and roam freely.
Where I live, for example, there are two Siamese cats who are allowed to go out together and there is a LaPerm cat which is also allowed to roam widely. Personally, and I stress this is my personal opinion, I would not let these cats roam so freely both for their safety and because there is the possibility that they could be stolen.
Purebred cats in this country could be valued at about £500 each. A rarer breed could be worth more than twice that and therefore if a thief has the connections their theft could be considered easy money.
Neal Parish, MP, chairman of the associate Parliamentary group for animal welfare called for tougher sentences on those convicted of stealing pets.
“We need to ensure police treat describes seriously and ensure that the courts impose suitable punishments”. He said.
There is a call by campaigners that pet thieves should be jailed for at least 6 weeks to halt the rise in violent thefts and ransom demands. Personally, I think 6 weeks is too short but the police and courts generally undervalue or underrate the emotional connection between companion animal caretaker and their companion animal. The true value of a ‘pet’ is far more than the commercial value, which should be recognised.