Dog owners are being warned to keep a close eye on their precious pooches as thefts of pets are expected to rise.
That’s according to the Country Land and Business Association Ltd who say animals can often be sold on quickly and are not easily traced.
A total of 217 dogs were reported stolen from the association’s eastern region during last year - with 48 of those from Herts.
Regional director for the area Nicola Currie said: “The temptation on a hot day is to let you dog go unattended in your garden, or out on your land, to find some cool shade. It’s also easy to let it run free and go out of sight while you are on walks.
“Unfortunately, this offers thieves a golden opportunity to take your animal.
“Many dogs are targeted by thieves because they can make money selling them on, often for breeding or for fighting.”
DogLost.co.uk, which helps reunite owners with lost animals, has noted a dramatic increase in the thefts of gundogs nationally since the laws surrounding metal theft were tightened in December 2012.
The CLA is recommending that dog owners cut the risk of theft by ensuring their animal is microchipped and wears a collar and ID tag.
If your dog is stolen, you are recommended to report it to the police immediately and contact your local dog warden. You should also check local animal rescue centres and consider using a website such as DogLost.co.uk and social media to circulate details of your dog as widely as possible.