Dogs and their owners are coming together this week to raise awareness about the spiralling trend of dog theft and educate the public on theft prevention as part of #PetTheftAwarenessWeek which is set to run from the 14th March to the 21st March.
Pet Theft Awareness Week was set up by Arnot Wilson of the Dog Union and Richard Jordan of VioVet to raise awareness of pet theft and seek law changes so that dog thefts are recorded properly as well as offenders facing harsher penalties under the law.
As it stands, dog theft is difficult to record. In a report from the University of Keele studying dog theft, they report that dog theft figures are often perceived low because police forces can label dog theft as “burglary, domestic burglary, vehicle offenses, theft from the person, and other theft offences” meaning they get lost in the statistics of other offences due to the nature of the legislation.
The campaign for awareness comes as a recent survey of 125,000 people conducted by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, showed that 97% thought dog theft was a serious problem and 22% knew of someone whose dog had been stolen in the last year.
Locally, the MK Conservatives, with the backing of Thames Valley Police, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber, have vowed to set up a Dog Theft Taskforce aimed at raising awareness and seeking out ways to reverse the trend in animal crime.
Cllr Alex Walker, Leader of the Conservative Group, said: “Dog theft has a devastating impact on families and it can also be a gateway to animal cruelty. As part of Pet Theft Awareness Week, we will be letting residents know that we do care about pet theft in MK and we have a plan to deal with it.
By establishing a Dog Theft Taskforce should we win in May, we can ensure residents have all the information to keep aware of this crime but also seek ways to reverse the trend.”