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Stolen to breed: Criminals stealing thoroughbred dogs 'to make quick cash' by breeding them

Gardaí are aware of an increase in the number of dog thefts.

Some of the dogs recovered in Limerick earlier this week.
Some of the dogs recovered in Limerick earlier this week.
Image: An Garda Síochána

GARDAÍ INVESTIGATING THE theft of dogs from family homes believe the criminals are attempting to breed thoroughbred animals to make quick money. 

Officers have been informed of a number of incidents of suspected dog theft or attempted dog theft across the nation since lockdown began. 

Demand for the animals as pets has been “unprecedented”, according to Dogs Trust, and many shelters in Ireland do not have any dogs for people to adopt. 

Officers believe some criminal elements are being “opportunistic” and entering a trade they know nothing about to turn over quick cash. 

In some instances, they have discovered animals which would have cost the owners over €1,000. 

Earlier this week, gardaí raided premises where they found 10 dogs they believed to have been stolen. 

At 7 pm on 1 August, Gardaí from Newcastle West District Drugs Unit, assisted by Rathkeale Gardaí and Limerick City and County Councils Veterinary Services and Dog Wardens, executed a search warrant at a property in the Rathkeale area.

Ten dogs; Labradors, Springer Spaniels, English Setters, Cavalier King Charles and Huskies, were seized by gardaí and are currently being care for in a local shelter.

The DSPCA has urged people not to get carried away with thoughts that there is a dognapping epidemic in progress. 

Gardaí themselves said that while there was an increase in anecdotal dog thefts from the general public, this has not been reflected in the official garda statistics. This is informing officers that while thefts may be on the rise, they are not being reported to An Garda Síochána. 

Many people have shared stories online about homes being targeted and how small signals were being used to signify that a thoroughbred dog was in the garden of a certain house. Many people have, for example, reported seeing chalk patterns outside the homes of a burglary victim. 

While signals such as these have been used in the past to mark out high-value homes worth thieving from, it is “highly unlikely” that something similar is happening in relation to dognapping, the source added. 

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Crime Prevention Officer Sergeant Ber Leetch said “We are advising everyone to take precautions for their dog’s safety. For your dog’s security, I would recommend they are microchipped so that they can be easily identified if found and returned to the owner.

“Remember if you have just purchased a dog to get the details on the chip updated to reflect your details. Also, place contact details on their collar in the event that they escape. Ensure that your home and garden are secure to prevent theft and deter potential culprits.

If you have a high-value breed of animal you may wish to consider CCTV and other crime prevention measures. If you are buying a dog, or returning a dog to its suspected owners, make sure the person is bona fide.

The DSPCA has warned people against breeding animals to make quick cash. 

Spokeswoman Gillian Bird said the whole process is lengthy and requires expertise which many do not possess.

Speaking about the recent increase in thefts, a garda spokesman said: 

“An Garda Síochána is aware there has been a number of dog thefts throughout the country recently. As we are hearing a lot about dog theft, it can make dog owners feel unsafe and worried about their beloved pets – so we would advise you take extra precautions for their safety.”

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