As gundog theft continues to gain prominence, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) is urging owner vigilance.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request undertaken by the BBC has shown an increase in dog theft across the country. A growing demand for puppies as a result of the lockdown period has seen prices rise. This is thought to have caught the attention of criminal gangs.
Dog thefts in 2020 have seen significant increases of nearly 100% or more in the police constabularies of Devon and Cornwall, Northumbria, Leicestershire, Suffolk and Humberside.
The FOI is backed up with data from Dog Lost which has seen an overall increase of 70% in reported thefts this year. Working gundog breeds such as springer spaniels and cocker spaniels are high up the list of most frequently targeted.
Gundog Theft Awareness Week (31st October – 6th November) helps inform the public about the increased risk to gundogs and provides information on keeping your dogs secure and what to do if your dog goes missing or thought stolen.
Toni Paull, BASC’s gundog officer, said: “We know that gundogs make up for a significant portion of dog theft, their high value makes them a prize target. Vigilance and additional safety measures are essential for reducing the risk.
“It is one of those instances that you don’t think it will ever happen to you until it does. Having spoken to numerous victims the trauma and pain of losing your dog to criminals is horrific. The risk of being targeted remains low but is at a concerning level.
“We urge anyone buying a dog to undertake due diligence to reduce the possibility of buying a stolen dog. For example, checking paperwork relating to the dog, meeting at the sellers’ home and cross-referencing microchip details can all be ways to lessen this risk.”