NEWS AND COMMENT: News media is currently bombarding readers with news about dog theft in the UK. It appears to be an epidemic brought about by inflated prices for pedigree dogs because of demand and the increased demand has in turn been brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. People are in lockdown. They become bored and they want a companion because they can’t have a human companion so they decide to adopt a dog even though they might not be prepared for the responsibilities. A potential recipe for disaster but the criminals amongst us have latched onto this surging market to make some quick money hence the increase in thefts.
The latest is disturbing in that a gang of organised thieves broke into the kennels on a farm to steal black-and-white border collies. Three bitches and another male border collie that was not his have been stolen.
71-year-old competitive dog trainer, Frank Satterthwaite, is distraught. His home is in rural Cumbria and the dogs were snatched late last month. The Times reports that organised gangs are working up and down the country to feed the growing market in companion dogs. Sometimes female dogs who have not been sterilised are stolen for breeding purposes.
The dogs stolen were working dogs but there were also family members. They were trained and they will be greatly missed, he said. He also said that he had put a lot of work into the animals. They are not only “very excellent working dogs, there are also family pets that we love. I didn’t realise quite how much I love them until they were gone.”
His kennels are well hidden and difficult to see. This indicates that the thieves knew what they were doing and that it was not an opportunistic theft. Mr Satterthwaite is builder by trade but he’s been training dogs for 40 years. He is known in his community. He trains other people’s sheep dogs as well.
The last time that he saw his dogs was at about 4pm on January 27th when he fed them. He returned to their kennels the next morning at 10am and they had gone. The police are investigating. Social media has been fired up with tens of thousands of people sharing an appeal to find them.
Satterthwaite said that if he can’t find the dogs he will use the incident to raise awareness of this pattern of thefts. There have been other thefts from external kennels on farms in rural areas. They have also been stolen from dog walkers and on the street.
A Cumbria police spokesman said that, “The dogs are all black and white sheep dogs, although one is described as having a yellow colour under her chest and another dog has one brown eye and one blue. Officers are appealing for anyone with information on the dogs’ whereabouts, anyone with CCTV or dash cam footage, to please get in touch.”