Concern as 'dozens of dogs' stolen in Doncaster over last couple of years
An animal welfare charity has expressed concern after figures revealed more than 200 pet dogs have been reported stolen over the last couple of years in South Yorkshire.
Police data obtained using the Freedom of Information Act revealed 225 pet pooches were reportedly nabbed from their owners between January 2017 and August 2019.
Doncaster had the highest number of incidents in that time frame with 78 alleged crimes, followed by Sheffield with 62. There were 48 incidents in Barnsley and 37 in Rotherham.
Police have noted a rise in thieves stealing so-called 'designer dog' breeds made popular by celebrities and a charity said the most targeted breeds include French Bulldogs, Chihuahuas and Pugs.
The release of the figures come after a woman was attacked in an attempted dognapping in a Doncaster street in August.
The woman was walking with her dogs along Brookfield Close, Thorne, when she was attacked from behind by man.
She was pushed to the ground and hit over the back of her head by a man who attempted to steal her 14-week-old Cockapoo and her other dog, a Lhasa Apso.
Police are still hunting the culprit.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals expressed 'concern' over the figures and urged dog owners to take precautions to ensure their beloved pet is not stolen.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “It’s really concerning to see how many dogs are being stolen each year and we’d urge anyone who believed their pooch has been taken to report the incident to police immediately.
“We’d urge all dog owners to take extra precautions to protect their pooches from thieves by neutering their pets, ensuring they are microchipped with up-to-date contact details registered, ensuring they wear a collar with contact details embroidered or an engraved ID tag.
“We’d also advise that owners never leave their pets tied up outside shops or alone in cars, ensure their gardens are secure with gates locked, and ensure their pet has a good recall and doesn’t stray too far when off-lead on walks.”
Kerriann Wiles, rehoming centre manager at the Blue Cross animal welfare charity in Sheffield, added: “The impact that the theft of a beloved pet has on a family is devastating. Not knowing what has happened to them or where they are is very distressing for both owners and pets alike.
“Pets need their familiar surroundings and to be with those they love and trust to feel safe and happy.”
South Yorkshire Police's Designing Out Crime Officer Dene Tinker said the most common reasons for dogs being stolen are 'high values attached to designer dogs' and a 'lack of awareness of the dangers of leaving your dog unattended.'