DOG owners are being warned to stay vigilant after reports of two attempted thefts in Fareham and Titchfield.
Police want people to report any suspicious activity after a woman had to fight off a dog-snatcher in Marks Road, Titchfield on Friday, September 20.
She had been walking her West Highland terrier at around 7pm when a small white van pulled up beside her, screeching the brakes as it stopped, and a man got out and tried to take her dog.
In a separate incident, a man tried to snatch a miniature schnauzer, which was being walked by a woman in Chatsworth Close, Fareham at around 8.30pm on Tuesday, September 24.
A car pulled up beside her, a man got out and tried to steal the dog. She pulled the dog back on its lead and he drove away empty-handed.
Vet Peter Heather, from Fareham Creek Veterinary Surgery, warned that thefts are not uncommon and said dogs are snatched to sell on, for breeding purposes or to be entered into illegal dog fights.
Mr Heather said: ‘We’ve known of dog thefts for a while. Quite recently we reunited a dog owner with two dogs that had been stolen in Whiteley.
‘The dogs had been wandering freely near a travellers site when a member of public, concerned for its welfare, grabbed one and brought it in to us.
‘We scanned the dog’s microchip and contacted the owner. It turns out two dogs had been stolen 18 months previously. To see the excitement of the dog and owner when they were reunited was amazing. I would advise anybody to have their dog microchipped as it’s the only permanent way to identify your dog.’
Mr Heather said making sure the dog is well-trained and will come back when called, is one way to deter a thief, as is putting dogs on a lead in theft hot spots.
He said: ‘It’s so easy to sell dogs on the internet, people see it as a way to make a quick buck. People need to be responsible when buying dogs, do their research to make sure they are buying from a reputable breeder.’
Tina Sanford, who runs Doggy-Daycare, a dog boarding service in Fareham, said: ‘That’s quite scary. It’s a bit close to home. I’d urge people walking their dogs to be careful, take a friend with them, and to take their mobile with them to report any suspicious activity to police straight away.’
PC John Cupper said: ‘Investigations are ongoing. We advise dog owners to be vigilant when out walking their dogs and report suspicious activity to police.’
Anyone with information should call PC Cupper on 101.