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Guide Dogs For The Blind Backs Nottinghamshire Police Plan For Dog Theft Officer

March 15, 2021

A police force has said it will appoint a dedicated senior officer to tackle dog thefts in what it believes is the first move of its kind in the country.

It is estimated dog thefts have risen by 250% nationwide following increased demand during the pandemic.

Nottinghamshire Police said there had been “growing alarm” among dog owners over the problem.

A chief inspector will be appointed to the new role and the force said it will demand tougher sentences for offenders.

Deputy police and crime commissioner for Nottinghamshire, Emma Foody, said: “There is growing alarm, both locally and nationally, over the threat of dog theft.

“This has been fuelled by a number of distressing incidents which have eroded public confidence.”

In a recent survey of dog owners by the force, which attracted nearly 18,000 responses, more than 13,000 said they were now more fearful of walking their pets during the day.

Sue Dunn, who had her dog Sadie stolen in Newark in August last year, said it was “the worst day of my life”.

“I was really worried. My dog is everything to me,” she said.

Ms Dunn, who has now got her dog back, said the appointment of a dedicated officer in Nottinghamshire was “long overdue”.

Wayne May, from the organisation Dog Lost, said in October last year the level of dog thefts was the “worst” he had known in his 30-year career.

He put it down to criminals capitalising on the demand for dogs during the pandemic.

A well as a dedicated officer, the force said it would also issue new video guidance on keeping pets safe and work with dog welfare organisations to demand tougher sentences for offenders.

Guide Dogs for the Blind has already pledged their support.

Tim Stafford, from the charity, said: “This year, for the first time, we have been informed of a couple of incidents when someone has attempted to take a guide dog from its owner.

“While such incidents are very rare in relation to how many guide dog partnerships our charity supports, we are concerned about how fearful our guide dog owners are of being a potential target at the moment.”

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