The number of stolen dogs was higher in Hackney than in any other London borough last year according to the Met Police, as the capital’s ‘dog-napping’ problem shows no signs of going away.
Figures released this week reveal that nearly 700 dogs have been stolen in London within the last three years.
15 dogs were reported stolen in Hackney last year, making it the worst borough in London for pinched pups in 2017, followed by Ealing and Hillingdon.
Blue Cross, a campaign groups for cat and dog welfare, called on the government to take more action following the new data.
Spokesperson Becky Thwaites said: “The effect of having your pet stolen can be absolutely devastating for owners. We want the government to do more to deal with this increasing problem.
“Penalties need to be tougher for those committing these crimes, to act as deterrent to others. We also believe that police forces need to ensure they deal with these cases in a sensitive manner and highlight where owners can go for further support.”
The revelations come less than a year after a Daily Mail investigation found that five dogs were reported stolen in Britain every day, with only a fifth of them being recovered.
Chances of people being reunited with their stolen pooch are even lower in London, where only 15 per cent of dogs were recovered in 2017.
Ira Moss, the manager at London-based charity All Dogs Matter said: “The dogs that get stolen are often sold on to Eastern Europe. They are more likely to be desirable, fashionable dogs such as French bulldogs and cockapoos, often worth more than £1,000.”
Hackney man George Birch fell victim to dog theft on Christmas Eve 2015, when his daughter’s mixed breed chihuahua was stolen.
“The whole dog-napping was captured on CCTV,” he said. “We had the number plate of the car that stopped and a description of the man that took her. Dinky was definitely stolen.”
Though Dinky was returned a week later, Birch believes the police could have done more: “This could have been followed up and I might have got Dinky back quicker. I don’t think it’s viewed as a serious crime.”
Luke Thomas described the first six months after his French bulldog Betty was stolen as “just awful”. Over a year later, Betty was found abandoned in Bromley.
“We know she was stolen because she was used for breeding. The authorities could have done more to handle this,” Thomas said. “Do not let your dogs out of your sight.”
In light of the new figures, the Metropolitan Police told the Hackney Post that people should “keep dogs in sight on walks” and not leave dogs “unattended for long periods”.
For more information about how to protect your pet, check out Blue Cross website. If you are struggling to cope with the loss of a pet, you can call the pet bereavement support line on 0300 096 6606.
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