POLICE in Cheshire are reminding residents to take some simple precautions to protect their dogs.

The National Police Chiefs Council highlighted the nationwide rise in dog thefts with the charity DogLost seeing a large increase in the number of dogs reported to them as stolen.

In Cheshire police have seen a slight decrease following a rise during the first lockdown, but it remains on the force’s watch-list.

The popularity of having a furry companion during lockdown has amplified the prices of dogs and unscrupulous illegal dog breeders and criminals are taking advantage.

Chief Superintendent Bill Dutton said: “While we don’t want to alarm people we do want to make sure you continue to take extra precautions to keep your pets safe. We understand that they are part of the family and the effect of having a pet stolen can be harrowing and distressing.

“Callous dog thieves don’t care about the heartbreak they cause, they just see the potential for making money - so we want to take this opportunity to remind you to keep your dog secure with some simple steps to make it harder for thieves.

“Please also keep an eye on your neighbourhood and report any suspicious activity to us so that we can make Cheshire a no-go area for dog thieves.”

There are a number of things you can do to protect your pet:

Make sure your garden is secure and gates locked so they can’t escape.

Don’t be tempted to leave your dog outside a shop or in an unattended car – it only takes a second for an opportunist thief to take advantage.

Avoid posting pictures on social media with your locations tagged.

More detailed information on protecting your pet from theft can be found here: https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/protect-your-dog-against-theft

Ch Supt Bill Dutton added: “If you are looking to add a furry friend to your family unit, don’t add fuel to the fire by inadvertently buying from an illegal puppy breeder or a seller who may have stolen the young dog in an effort to sell it for money. Make sure you know the signs and what to look out for.”

If you are looking to buy a puppy take a look at this checklist before you start your search. https://www.nawt.org.uk/advice/puppy-buyers-checklist-0

You can also consider adopting from a wide range of registered animal charities.