Residents 'shocked' by amount of Wigan dog thefts
Campaigners have staged an event at a Wigan pet shop to raise awareness of the alarming number of dog thefts in the borough.
Dog Lost UK held the demo at the Robin Park branch of Pets at Home in a bid to show Wiganers just how easy it is for someone to steal their dogs, and issue advice on how to prevent thefts from occurring.
Fiona Monger, Wigan and Leigh coordinator for the campaign, said the event’s impact was “absolutely amazing”.
She said: “Not a lot of people knew how many dogs are stolen in Wigan. A lot of owners didn’t think it could happen to them, so it was about raising awareness to not leave your dog in the car, in the garden, don’t leave it tied up outside. We spoke to hundreds of people.”
She added: “It’s been a shock to them. We had owners there who have had their dogs stolen, and were speaking to people about their feelings. People just don’t understand, because they don’t think a dog is stealable, so they’re unaware of what’s going on.
“This time last year I was dealing with two stolen dogs in Wigan, now I’m dealing with 12. It’s a massive spike, people are absolutely shocked.”
Figures recently obtained by the Wigan Post show that last year saw a worrying 66 per cent increase in dognappings with only a fraction of those beloved animals taken being returned to their owners.
There were 15 dogs reported stolen to Greater Manchester Police in 2017, up from nine in 2016. The majority of canines were snatched from gardens or yards, while many were also taken from houses.
Two were also brazenly snatched from a veterinary surgery.
The latest figure also tops the 2015 tally of 12 stolen pets.
Sadly, only one in six dogs reported stolen over the three-year period was later recovered.
Dogs Trust senior campaigns manager Lee Paris says weak sentencing guidelines for dog thefts were not a strong enough deterrent.
He said: “We believe existing sentencing does nothing to act as a deterrent to thieves. Currently, dogs are treated like any other form of property and, as such, paltry fines are mostly given.
“We want the sentencing council to recognise dogs as part of the family and acknowledge the emotional impact of dog theft.
“Linked to this, we want an increase in sentencing so, at the bare minimum, a community order or prison sentence is given, not a fine.”
Fiona and Dog Lost UK will be staging another event this Friday, June 22, between 11am and 3pm at the Grand Arcade Shopping Centre.