Some 193 dogs were reported stolen in Scotland last year, according to police reports made available to the Kennel Club.
According to the animal charity, 335 dogs were stolen in the North West region in 2020, accounting for 14% of all dog thefts nationwide.
Information sourced through freedom of information requests suggests that some 1751 dogs were reported as stolen across the UK in 2020.
The figure could be more as nine out of the 45 police forces failed to provide figures.
Calls for justice
The UK Government has launched a task force to look at the issue of dog thefts as reported cases continue to spike across the country.
However, the Kennel Club is demanding that harsher punishments be introduced for the crime.
The club’s health, welfare and breeder executive, Bill Lambert, lamented the ‘frankly jaw-dropping’ statistic that just 2% of dog theft cases resulted in a suspect being charged, according to figures provided by 27 police forces.
He stressed that dog theft has:
devastating consequences for both the owners and the animals involved...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.
Pushing for meaningful change
The Kennel Club is also pushing for more transparent recording of pet theft on a central database, so that underlying causes can be tackled.
Mr. Lambert said:
We welcome the UK Government taking this issue seriously and hope that the taskforce 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.
Coupled with these demands, they want the emotional value of dogs to be recognised in sentencing.
Thieves are currently only sentenced according to the monetary value of a pet which means it is often treated in the same way as stealing a laptop or mobile phone.