Warning to pet owners as pooch thefts soar
Dog rescue volunteers are warning owners to be on their guard following a huge spike in the number of animals stolen to order.
The Gazette can reveal that the number of dog thefts reported to Lancashire Police in Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde has soared by 500 per cent in the past five years.
In 2012, just seven stolen dogs were reported to the police. This rose to 17 in 2013 and again to 19 in 2014, before falling down to 16 reports in 2015.
Last year, 36 stolen dogs were reported missing.
Now workers at rescue groups Harvey’s Army and Homeward Bound are warning thefts will continue to rise
Maxine Graber, of Harvey’s Army, was called to Hawes Side Lane last month where a man had been seen coaxing a family’s pet chihuahua into a black car.
A witness took note of the vehicle’s registration number and the car was tracked to an address on Division Lane, where police were called.
Maxine said: “Dog theft in Blackpool is on the rise. So many dogs go missing and are never seen again.
“There are so many dogs in rescues if you want a dog you can just go there.
“Dogs are stolen for breeding. Some get stolen for dog fighting.
“They steal them and sell them on, or use them for breeding and when the bitch is unable to have any more puppies she is sold on.
“Some people do pick them up and they will wait for a reward to be offered and then they’ll return it.”
“People need to not let their dogs out in their back garden unless they are with them. Only yesterday I saw two dogs tied up out outside Asda.
“I think some are stolen and some are found and people decide to keep them or sell them on.
“If you find a dog you have to inform the dog warden or it’s counted as theft.”
She added that the charity currently has two missing dogs on its radar in Blackpool, both believed to have been picked up after disappearing from their homes.
Indi the grey powder puff cross has been missing from Lytham Road since January 20, and Conan the four-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier has been missing since July 14 after he disappared from his Rathlyn Avenue home.
His devastated owner Kyle Wood, 26, said: “I’m heartbroken and my two kids are as well.
“He’s definitely been picked up by someone because otherwise he would have been returned to us by now. Everybody knows him about the area. He’s a popular dog.
“I’m worried about him. My dog’s dad ran away a few years ago and he was found years later and he had been abused and used for breeding.
“I don’t want that to happen to him. I just want my dog back.
“I’ve been riding around every day on my bike and every day I’ve been handing out leaflets.
“There seems to be quite a lot of dogs going missing in the Blackpool area.
“There seems to be a new missing poster up every day.”
Carole Peterson, 59, sister of Robert Peterson, Indi’s owner, said: “He let her out in the garden to go to the toilet; it was only five minutes but she completely disappeared.
“It looks like she’s been picked up and kept.
“She wasn’t the type of dog to run up to a strange person so they would have to have gone after her.
“My brother is not a well man and he would sit with Indi on his knee and she was a great comfort to him.
“He’s very upset. He lived for Indi.
“Dogs are members of the family. They’re like your babies.
“We’ve still got all her stuff in case she comes back.
“She hadn’t been spayed so she was still able to have puppies, so whether someone has taken her for breeding I have no idea.”