Western Morning News

Misery caused by ‘dog-nap’ criminals

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THIS week’s Sunday papers highlighte­d that the theft of a family’s dog, so called ‘dog-napping’, is reaching epidemic proportion­s across the country. This is a particular­ly heartless crime – cruel to the animal and cruel for their owners.

Even working dogs, as found in many parts of our region, become companions. Losing them, to person or persons unknown, causes anguish, anger and despair.

I am finding growing concern about this upsetting crime as I have made visits and now hold online meetings with community groups. Lockdown has encouraged more families in our cities and towns to own dogs, while in rural communitie­s the loss of working animals, such as gun dogs, can directly impact owners’ income.

The dogs are stolen for breeding purposes, for ransom, or even in order to claim the reward which many desperate families offer for the safe return of their canine friend.

The criminals behind these cruel crimes are often highly sophistica­ted.

They trail potential target animals, and then watch their house or farm until the owners are away. Then they pounce.

I urge all dog owners to be careful, and be aware of possible dangers. If you are at all suspicious about people hanging around or watching your property, please report them to the police, either online or by calling 101.

We can work together as a community to stop these criminals making money off the misery of others.

Mark Shelford Conservati­ve Police and Crime Commission­er candidate for Avon and Somerset

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