Since the beginning of 2013, more than 5,000 dogs have been reported stolen to police forces in England and Wales, according to the BBC.
The broadcaster obtained the figures under the Freedom of Information Act and as a result, have revealed a 22% rise in dog thefts in the last two years.
On the back of the BBC's report, I listened to a radio interview where the guest on the show was asked about the rise in dog thefts and he said, 'You can take any of my possessions from me, I might miss it but I can replace it. But if my dog is stolen, it would ruin my life' and I can agree with that, writes Kim O'Meara.
Our pets are irreplaceable.
On 21st February 2014, Phil Ludlam's life was turned upside down when his dog was stolen from his parked van in a supermarket car park in Trafford Park, Manchester. In the space of a few minutes, his life was changed but he was able to track his dog, Frank, down and their story had a happy ending. Many dogs who are stolen aren't as lucky.
Phil shared his story with us and how he now hopes to use what he learned over the 18 days Frank was missing to help more dog owners find their stolen dogs.
'I was only gone for 15 minutes and had only gone into the supermarket to get some mince to cook for Frank's tea', Phil recalled.
Phil remembers being told that there was no CCTV covering his van. With one of the biggest terrorist targets being the Trafford Centre he had hoped this would give him his first lead to getting Frank back, but sadly there was nothing.
'It was a combination of social media and the efforts of the sergeant (Brian Delaney) assigned to our police case which helped me build momentum to get him back. My head was in bits, but I couldn't give up. He's part of the family and comes everywhere with me. I would never have given up', he said.
Phil recalls, 'We made a poster, set up a twitter and facebook account and Frank's poster, which included a phone number and reward went viral around the world. I had Pug enthusiasts getting in touch from all over offering their thoughts on what had happened and where he was. It was actually a little mad, but I knew everyone's intentions were from a good place.'
Frank was gone for 18 days.
Phil remembers how he handled the time apart, 'It made me ill. I own a catering company so everywhere I go, Frank goes too. Being self-employed I just put everything into finding Frank and so everything else just was put on hold really. I wasn't sleeping though, and it's unreal the nutters you get who call you after seeing your poster. The type of calls I got I wouldn't wish on anyone, but you answer every call because you just never know if it might be 'the' one which leads to you getting your dog back.'
And one call did lead to Frank and Phil being reunited.
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He had been bought out of the back of a van, that's what she told the police afterwards anyhow. I went to the house where he was staying and got him out of there as quick as I could. He was my dog and they knew that. What had actually led to him being there, I know the story I'm told is all I'll say but the person had children and as much as I wanted justice, I wouldn't put a family of younger children through the experience.
After taking some time to recoup after the experience, Phil knew he could use his experience to help others. He says, 'The early days are when your head is in a mess, but they are crucial to use most wisely to get your dog back and so my 'how to guide' really is designed to help others when you can't think for yourself'.