Nearly 200 suspected dog thefts in Scotland in 2020, say police
Almost 200 dogs may have been stolen in Scotland last year, according to police estimates.
Figures released to The Kennel Club through suggest there were 193 suspected dog thefts in 2020.
Freedom of information requests produced data which showed that, across the UK, at least 1751 dogs were reported as stolen, although nine of the 45 police forces failed to provide statistics.
The UK Government has launched a task force to look at the issue, with The Kennel Club calling for Westminster and devolved administrations to introduce harsher punishment for the crime.
Bill Lambert, The Kennel Club’s health, welfare and breeder executive, stressed dog theft has “devastating consequences for both the owners and the animals involved”.
Mr Lambert also criticised the “frankly jaw-dropping” statistic that just 2 per cent of dog theft cases resulted in a suspect being charged, according to data provided by 27 police forces.
He added: “Not only that, but when a sentence is handed out it is often treated no more seriously than a petty crime, despite the fact that there is nothing ‘petty’ about pet theft.
“The low charge rates and the paltry sentences are an almost open invitation to criminals looking to target innocent dog owners.
“While most people will never be unfortunate enough to fall victim to this crime, those that do are left totally bereft but without a clear route to justice.
“We welcome the UK Government taking this issue seriously and hope that the task force can deliver meaningful change that will give greater transparency in how we report and record this crime, and deliver more proportionate sentences that treat dog theft with the seriousness it deserves.
“It’s time to see the Scottish Government step up too, for the sake of Scotland’s pets.”
The plea for more to be done to tackle the problem of dog thefts comes just days after a Scots teenager was reunited with her stolen pooch – found 260 miles from home
Iona Mcgregor, 18, was on holiday when her two female Cocker Spaniels were taken from kennels at her family's farm steading in Amulree, Perthshire on July 15.
There are fears for her other pet which is still missing, however, Iona was “overjoyed” when one of the dogs was found in Brinsley, Nottinghamshire.
The pooch was “extremely restless and scared” when discovered by a dog walker.
Iona was left heartbroken after the dogs, which she declined to name, were stolen and fears they were taken to breed or be sold.
As the pets are spayed, microchipped and older, the owner says they’re of no use to the thieves.
Iona said: “All safety precautions had been taken to keep the dogs safe from padlocks, CCTV and certain people checking them at random times.
“We got a call saying two had been stolen but two others had managed to get away luckily.
“They had gone into one of the sheds for a metal bar to break the padlocks and also moved CCTV cameras.
“I was completely devastated and in absolute shock.”
She added: “I got a call on July 20 to say one had been found, and she is now home safe and sound.
“I was completely overjoyed, I was shaking and speechless. It made me even more determined to get them both back.”