According to new research by Direct Line Pet Insurance, in 2018 five dogs were stolen each day, with Staffies and Chihuahuas the most targeted pedigree dog breeds.
You might think your home and garden is safe, but how safe really is it?
Last January, at 5 am while it was still dark outside, a Chihuahua named Luna was stolen from her garden in Bradford, West Yorkshire. Thieves jumped the five-foot gate to enter the garden and take her from her family.
Her owner, Kathleen Easton, tells us she won’t ever give up searching for Luna but she now wants to help other families avoid the devastation she and her family have gone through.
Here’s her story.
The Day Luna Disappeared
“It was 5 am on the morning of 23rd January 2018, Luna was in our garden which is secured by a six-foot fence surrounding the whole garden with a five-foot gate, which is bolted from the inside at the bottom of the gate. The person climbed over the gate and unbolted it and stole little Luna.
“I realised Luna was gone when she didn't respond to my call, immediately the garden was searched but we knew she had been taken as the gate was open.
“We searched for days on end, we slept in our cars all night waiting and watching certain areas, we searched all waste ground, fields, housing estates, alleys, we also did our own door to door enquires."
The Days Following Luna’s Theft
“In the days after little Luna was taken, we continued out in the community searching everywhere possible. We put up leaflets and posters everywhere and contacted all veterinary practices. We then set up a ‘Help Find Stolen Luna’ group. The group now has 4,200 members.
“I have had to fight for everything. Getting the police on board and taking our case seriously has been an ongoing battle, but I contacted the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner and that intervention helped as I received a telephone call from an Inspector who allowed an officer to investigate which is ongoing, as we do have evidence.
“As it stands dog theft is classed as a household item, such as a laptop or mobile phone, but a dog is a living breathing animal who deserves to have a law to protect them. They have no voice, so I act as Luna’s voice.
“The local community has been fantastic, people have offered so much support.
“But if it wasn’t for all of our members on the Facebook group, their continued support and shares, comments and private messages, we simply wouldn't be where we are today. I thank them from the bottom of my heart and won't ever be able to repay them.
“To us, dogs are family and Luna was the baby of our family. She was loved, cherished and spoilt by us all. Owning a dog to us is exactly the same as bringing a child into the world. We teach them right from wrong, we love them, we feed them, we guide them, we keep them safe, we walk and play with them, we keep them warm and healthy. We simply love them.
“I will continue to fight for Luna and to make certain that the culprits are brought to justice and I will continue to raise awareness of the shocking statistics in Bradford and across our country regarding dog theft and dogfighting. My voice will continue to be heard as I simply can't let this barbaric crime continue and destroy families, as it has ours."
Luna's distinctive floppy ear
Do You Know What Happened to Luna?
“Luna was two-years-old when she was taken, she will now be three. She is tan in colour, but she is very distinctive because she has a floppy ear with feathering around her ears and neck.
“She also has four white socks on her paws, but they probably would have changed Luna’s appearance, for example, shaved her feathering.
“Luna was stolen from the BD6 area in North East Bradford. If anyone believes they have seen Luna or know someone who has, please contact my family and Luna’s page admin, Jayne Ellison through the Facebook group. They can also contact DogLost.co.uk or PC Craig Bradford at the West Yorkshire Police.”
What to Do If Your Dog Is Stolen
In the event your dog is stolen, there are things you can do. PawSquad, who offer 24/7 online access to a qualified vet, suggest the following top steps:
• Immediately report a missing dog to the microchip databases Petlog, PETtrac and Identibase. They’ll be able to notify you when your pet is found.
• If you believe your dog has been stolen, report the crime to the police and ask for a crime reference number. This will make it easier to find out about the precise nature of their investigation.
• Put up posters in the local area. Familiarising the neighbourhood with your dog will make it more likely to be found by a stranger.
• Register your missing pet on a dedicated website, such as Dog Lost, this will make it easier for members of the public to find and help return your dog.
• Post on social media to raise awareness, especially any local community groups that can share your post and help spread the news.
• Retrace your steps if your dog went missing during a walk. You may stumble across clues as to where they might have headed.
• Be sure to search common hiding places, surrounding gardens and the local neighbourhood. Ask anyone you see about your dog.
• Check with the council. The government has a handy feature which allows you to search for missing dogs.