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Dog owners scared to walk pets amid fears of dognapping – survey

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Dog owners are more scared of walking their pets now than this time last year amid fears of dognappers, according to a survey.

It comes after a charity recorded a 170% increase in dog theft in one year.

But campaigners say the penalties for dog theft do not match the devastating impact it can have on families who have beloved pooches taken from them.

Holly Morgan, 26, from Nottingham had her dog stolen in August 2019 and faced sleepless nights worrying whether he was OK.

She said: “Having my dog stolen was definitely the worst, stressful and most heart-breaking situation I have ever had to go though in my life.”

Fortunately with help from Facebook organisation Beauty’s Legacy she was eventually reunited with her beloved Cocker Spaniel Bud.

Bud was found just under 130 miles away from home after being missing for 18 days.

Bud the Cocker Spaniel, belonging to Holly Morgan from Nottingham / PA Media

She said: “Even though I have my gorgeous boy back and my family is now whole again I am still living every day in fear that it will happen again.

“Even more so now with lockdown. I won’t walk my dogs by myself anymore, even in daylight, as I’m so petrified that they will be stolen from me.”

Investigating the issue, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne organised a survey to gauge public opinion.

The online survey received 124,729 responses with an large majority saying dog theft was a “serious problem” and that thieves should face stiffer sentences.

– 96.9% said that dog theft is a serious problem– 22% know someone who has had a dog stolen over the last year– 78.4% of people, to whom the question was applicable, said they had grown more fearful of taking their dog for a walk during the day– 83% to whom the question was applicable, have grown more fearful of taking their dog for a walk at night.

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