Crime figures show most dog breeds stolen in Devon as thefts soar

Dog thefts have soared in Devon and Cornwall, with bull terriers being the most targeted breed last year.

A total of 103 dog thefts were reported to police in 2021, up from 66 the previous year.

Bull terriers were involved in 11 cases, followed by eight flights each of Chihuahuas and Jack Russells.

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There have been seven reports of border collies being stolen, five cocker spaniels, four bulldogs and four labradors.

In one case in December last year, a border collie called Fern who was stolen from a farm in Thornbury in North Devon was found by police 170 miles away in Warwickshire.

In a separate incident, Maggie, a pregnant French bulldog stolen from Bradninch, near Cullompton, in May, was discovered with her six puppies 200 miles away in Manchester.

And in June, a Patterdale terrier called Lola who was taken from Perranporth to Cornwall was found by police when they stopped a vehicle in Essex 10 days later.

The dogs have been reunited with their owners, but overall it is estimated that only around one in five stolen animals are returned.

In the five years since 2017, 378 dog thefts have been reported to police in Devon and Cornwall.

The highest number was for bull terriers with 34 incidents, followed by 25 chihuahuas and cocker spaniels, 22 border collies and 19 bulldogs.

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Breeds appearing in five-year crime figures for the first time in 2021 were American Akita (1), Belgian Shepherd (1), Cockerpoo (3), French Bulldog (3), Norfolk terrier (1), Papillon (1), Pomeranian (2) and Springer Spaniel (1).

Other breeds reported stolen last year were Alsatian/German Shepherd (1), Bulldog (1), Dachshund (2), Husky (1), Lurcher (2), Malamute (1), the Patterdale terrier (2), the pug (1) and shitzu (1). There were 31 cases where the breed was not registered.

Crime figures show six Rottweilers were reported stolen in 2017, but none in the years since.

Fern the border collie stolen from North Devon has been found in Warwickshire
Fern the border collie stolen from North Devon has been found in Warwickshire

Crime Stoppers says the pandemic closures have led to an increase in dog ownership, driving up demand and prices and making them more attractive to thieves.

He says you should report the theft to the police, notify the microchipping company and publicize the missing animal locally and on websites.

Devon and Cornwall Police have a Web page with advice on what to do if your dog is lost or stolen.

The government plans to introduce a new dog abduction offense into the Kept Animals Bill after an increase in thefts during the pandemic. Previously, the theft of a pet was treated as a loss of property.

Over 2,000 pet thefts were reported to police in the UK in 2020, with seven in 10 involving dogs.

Police advise owners to avoid leaving their pets unattended when out in public, to vary routines when walking their dogs and to take basic safety measures at home, such as checking door locks. doors and garden gates.