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It's become so terrifying in that many have resorted to carrying personal alarms, and even self defence sprays while out on walks.
Believed to be the result of an increasing demand for dogs during lockdown (and the skyrocketing prices that followed), the puppy theft epidemic has devastated families across the country - and it doesn't seem to be slowing down.
From pregnant females, to adult dogs and young puppies, sick thieves across the UK have started targeting dogs of all ages - and they're coming up with devious ways of doing so.
Sadly, with current sentencing doing little to deter them, animal charities are urging dog owners to be vigilant.
One such horrifying method involves thieves tying ribbons or cables on gates, fences - or anything outside your home that's recognisable - to alert accomplices that there is a dog inside the house.
It's important to be vigilant of any kind of 'marking' outside your home. A few months ago, dog owners were warned about chalk 'symbols' which seemed to be popping up outside people's properties - most commonly chalked onto their brickwork or on wooden fences.
At the time, one woman from Suffolk wrote on Facebook: "Really unsettling to discover a white chalk mark on our back fence this evening.
"Please if you have dogs, check your property for these marks and don't let your dogs out in the garden alone at the moment. Not going to sleep tonight."
Meanwhile another dog owner posted: "This is not a prank or wind up, this is going on and it's very serious.
"I have been targeted twice, it has now cost me £500 for CCTV. They don't only chalk, they use cable ties and they also come round and leave your gates open so when your dog runs out they steal it.
"They knock on your door to see if you want work done, that's how they know you have dogs. Please be very aware."
Just last week, the RSPCA issued a warning after one criminal posed as one of their employees in order to try and steal a Golden Retriever puppy from the owner's home.
The owner had received a knock on the door from the fraudster, claiming to be from the charity. Thankfully, they were immediately suspicious of the man and bolted the door.
With thieves resorting to all kinds of menacing ways to steal pups, the rise in thefts is increasingly concerning for owners, who consider their pooches to be members of the family.
We spoke to Dogs Trust and Blue Cross, to establish the steps owners can take to protect their pups.
Dogs Trust's Chief Executive, Owen Sharp, told Tyla: "Demand for dogs is at an all-time high but not only that, our research has shown that prices for some of the UK's most desirable dog breeds are at their highest in three years, and possibly ever, with the costs for some dogs increasing month on month since lockdown began.
"Given the high demand for dogs and the increase in prices, it is no wonder criminals are taking advantage of the situation.
"Our dogs play such a huge and important part in our lives but sadly thousands are stolen each year, which is absolutely heart breaking.
"Current sentencing does very little to deter thieves and does not take into consideration how devastating it can be to have your dog taken from you. Punishment for dog theft is determined by the monetary value of the dog, meaning perpetrators are often given fines which do not reflect the emotional impact of dog theft on the families involved."
How to keep your pup safe
1. Many dogs are snatched from homes and gardens, so it's essential to make sure both are secure. Ideally, a dog shouldn't be left on their own in the garden.
2. Never leave your dog unattended when you're out and about and always keep them in sight.
3. Make sure they are trained to come back to you, no matter what the distraction.
4. Ensure your dog is microchipped. Added to this, always make sure your contact details are up to date. This will give you the best chance of being reunited with your dog should anything happen.
5. Avoid leaving your dog tied up outside a shop, or in a car, even for just a few minutes.
6. Make sure your dog is wearing a collar and ID tag, with your details on it. A mobile number is also a good option, but do not put your dog's name on the disc. If the thief knows your pup's name, it may help them pass the dog on to unsuspecting new owners.
7. Make sure you have lots of up to date photos of you and your dog, at various angles, showing any distinguishing features, should you need them.
8. Be vigilant about who you trust to look after your dog. Always use a reputable service and check references.
9. While out walking, be cautious over people who stop and ask questions about your dog. Vary your route and the time of day you walk your pup.
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