MISSING: The stolen dogs never seen again ...

Balloo the dog who was injured during a raid on Barlows Farm, Bickershaw, in which several puppies were stolen
Balloo the dog who was injured during a raid on Barlows Farm, Bickershaw, in which several puppies were stolen

Dozens of dogs have been stolen from the borough in the past few years - and less than a quarter of them have been recovered by police.

Figures released to the Wigan Post under the Freedom of Information Act shows there were 38 crimes involving 47 canines being taken between April 2013 and the end of March 2016.

However, just eight of these vanished four-legged friends were reunited with their owners by Greater Manchester Police. Dogs ranging from shih-tzus and Yorkshire terriers to Alaskan malamutes, Staffordshire bull terriers and spaniels were snatched from homes in the borough during the three-year period.

Many of the crimes involve expensive pedigree dogs, with criminals looking to sell them on to people tempted by the lower prices asked for illegally-obtained canines compared to those bought from legitimate sources.

A borough MP today called for a new a crime of dog theft to be introduced.