A St Helen’s vets has shared its advice on how to prevent your pet from being stolen following a surge in dognappings.

About 2,000 pet thefts were reported to UK police forces during the Covid-19 pandemic, with 70 per cent involving dogs.

It led to 500,000 animal lovers signing a petition to Parliament to make dog theft a specific offence, which recognises the emotional trauma it causes an owner.

While the country waits for the legislation to be written up, White Cross Vets in St Helen’s has been sharing their advice on how to rescue the chances of having a pet stolen.

White Cross Vet say the biggest problem with microchips is owners forgetting to update their details

Laura Paterson, group clinical director at White Cross Vets, explained to TeamDogs: “Unfortunately as the demand for puppies and kittens has sky rocketed, so has their price, with the most sought-after breeds being sold for vast sums of money.

"Although there have always been pet thefts, the numbers are increasing, and we are continually receiving enquiries from distressed pet owners trying to find lost and stolen pets.

“Pets are beloved and integral family members and it’s very painful for owners when they are stolen or go missing. At the moment, a pet theft is treated as a loss of an owner’s property, so its comparable to having a bike pinched, which isn’t right.

“The pet abduction offence will recognise that pets are far more important than other items of property and will acknowledge the emotional distress that occurs when a pet is stolen.

"Once introduced, the new law should make it more difficult for thieves to abduct and sell pets as well as making it easier for police to apprehend the criminals and tougher sentences will reflect the impact on both the pet and owner.”

White Cross Vets have created a list of tips to reduce the chances of a pet being stolen:

Laura went on to explain microchips remain one of the best chances of a pet being reunited with their families.

A 2016 law required all dogs to be microchipped and registered by the age of eight weeks. But despite this, the problem lays with owners not updating their details.

Laura added: "Hardly a week goes by without somebody bringing us a lost pet cat or dog and the first thing we always do is scan for a microchip. This gives us a unique reference number, which we can use to obtain the owner’s details from a database.

“However, we often find this contains out of date details, because a pet owner has moved home or changed their phone number, without updating the database. It only takes a few minutes to do, and it can make all the difference if the pet goes missing.”