TWO DOGS stolen from kennels in West Lothian alongside seven puppies, have died after being hit by a car.
The adult lurchers were snatched from a garden in Glendevon Park, Winchburgh, on Wednesday, with seven young shih tzu puppies.
We are still appealing for information about the whereabouts of the seven shih tzu puppiesPC JOHN JACKSON
It is believed the lurchers were let loose by thieves to roam around, and the pets wandered on to a road into oncoming traffic.
They were struck by a Honda Civic around 10.10pm on Thursday night on the B9020, near Tippet Knowe Road.
One of the dogs died straight away and the other was taken to a vet, where it was put down with the owner’s permission.
Police said it was urgent the tiny puppies – worth hundreds of pounds – are found.
Pc John Jackson said: “We believe the lurchers may have been left to roam and as a consequence their owners have very sadly lost their dogs. We are still appealing for anyone who may have information about the whereabouts of the seven shih tzu puppies to come forward, so we can reunite them with their mum and rightful owners.
“The puppies are worth around £650 each and if you are offered a puppy matching this description, which seems disproportionately cheap and the mother is unavailable to view, please get in touch.”
The thieves are suspected to have struck between 7.30am and 6pm on Wednesday and police are urging anyone who saw anything to let them know.
The puppies are tan and white in colour and just eight weeks old. They are too young to be separated from their mother.
It is feared the puppies will be either sold or used for breeding to make a profit.
Smaller breeds, including shih tzus and pugs, have been sold online in numerous cases, while larger, trained, working dogs, like lurchers, are also targeted by gangs.
It is believed some of the animals are being stolen to order, and others are sold to buyers in other parts of Britain, with some fetching more than £2000.
Some groups claim that the crime spree is being driven by the increasing popularity of certain breeds with celebrity owners. However, others say dognapping is seen as lucrative.
It is thought that as many as 65 dogs are stolen every day across the UK, and a surge in pet theft has also been linked to dogfighting rings.
There have also been a rising number of reports of gangs using discreet signals to mark the homes where valuable pedigree breeds are kept.
Signals includes criminals placing small marks on fences, gates and kerb stones, to indicate where the dogs are.
Gangs then return to steal the valuable pets at a later time.
Dog owners are being urged to be vigilant when leaving their dogs unattended to avoid more dognapping incidents.
From April next year, new legislation will be put in place to make it compulsory for owners to microchip their dogs.
It is hoped this will make it easier for stolen animals to be tracked down.
A public consultation in 2014 showed more than 83 per cent of those who took part favoured making microchipping compulsory.
The government said the move would be a “huge help” in cutting the number of lost and abandoned dogs.
Call Police Scotland 101 with any information.