Dog thefts have increased by nearly a fifth during the lockdown, shocking new numbers have shown.
An estimated 2,438 dogs were reported stolen last year, up 19% from 2019. But only 22% were reunited with their owners.
According to an analysis by Direct Line Pet Insurance, Staffordshire Bull Terriers remain the most popular breed of dog targeted by thieves. 97 dogs were stolen in 2020.
Crossbreeds are still the second most affected, with 52 dogs stolen last year, although that was a decrease of nearly a third compared to 2019.
Cocker Spaniels became the third most common theft in 2020 with 34 dogs.
Meanwhile, Springer Spaniels with 16 dogs are also being targeted last year, up from only three in 2019.
Other popular destinations are the Chihuahua and French Bulldogs, where the number of animals stolen has decreased year over year but still 12 of each breed were stolen from UK homes in 2020.
Regional data suggests that the northwest is the hotspot for dog theft today, accounting for 15% of all thefts reported in 2020.
In second place was London with 13% of all thefts, followed by the South East and Yorkshire.
Experts fear an increase in dog ownership and rising puppy prices during the pandemic will lead to an increase in thefts.
Dog owners are urged to be extra vigilant and keep the details of the microchips up to date as many of them will return to the offices when the restrictions wear off, The Mirror reports.
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Madeline Pike, Veterinarian at Direct Line Pet Insurance, said: “It is incredibly sad to see the dog theft incidence increased by such a large percentage in 2020.
“Unfortunately, the increase in dog ownership through bans seems to have also led to an increase in dog theft, as thieves know how valuable some of these breeds can be and view them as a commodity rather than a loved one in the family.
“The concern is that these numbers will increase even further this year as the dogs are left more alone as the restrictions wear off and we return to a new ‘normal’.
“Taking simple precautions, such as not leaving your dog tied outside of a store or on a leash in busy areas, can reduce the chance of you being targeted. However, making sure the contact details are available for Microchips are up to date, you can identify a dog if it’s stolen and turned in. ”
(Image: STOKE SENTINEL)
List shows race / percentage change
1. Staffordshire Bull Terrier 9%
2. Crossings -31%
3. Cocker Spaniel 26%
4. Bulldog 23%
5. Labrador 189%
6. Jack Russell 92%
7. Border Collie 54%
8. Springer Spaniel 333%
9. Chihuahua -76%
10. French Bulldog -33%