The North West of England has become the worst place for dog thefts in the whole country, new data has revealed.
As many as 335 pooches were stolen from this region during the course of 2020 according to The Kennel Club – accounting for 14% of all thefts nationwide.
The leading dog organisation also found there were 2,355 instances of dognapping in 2020 overall – up 7% from 2019.
Figures revealed that police solved just 2% of these crimes.
In the case of North West dog thefts, no suspect was identified in more than a quarter of those cases and no one was charged with any crimes.
The Kennel Club is now mounting a new campaign, titled “Paw and Order: Dog Theft Reform”, to improve these stats – calling for a centralised database containing information on dog thefts that can be shared by various police forces.
The campaign also asks for the emotional value of dogs to be recognised in sentencing – with legislative guidelines currently only taking into account the monetary value of animals.
Bill Lambert, health, welfare and breeder services executive, The Kennel Club, said: “Dog theft has devastating consequences for both the owners and the pets involved and it is quite frankly jaw dropping that 98 per cent of cases never result in a criminal charge, and in more than half no suspect is ever identified.
“Not only that, but when a suspect is found and sentenced, dog theft is often treated no more seriously than a petty crime, despite the fact that there is nothing ‘petty’ about pet theft.”
A law change came into effect last month increasing the maximum sentence for the worst animal cruelty offences from six months to five years in England and Wales.
Under the new Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021, offenders in England and Wales can receive longer prison sentences and also receive an unlimited fine.