Dog theft reports rise 22% in just two years

More than 5,000 dogs have been reported stolen across England and Wales since the start of 2013, according to an investigation.

According to information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, there has been a 22.3 per cent rise in reports to police over just two years, prompting calls for a specific crime of pet theft to be introduced.

Police figures have revealed that 1,490 dogs were taken in 2013, 1,599 in 2014 and 1,776 in 2015. The first four months of 2016 have also caused concern, with the number of reported thefts reaching 423.

Some police forces have also revealed that the theft of several dogs simultaneously is sometimes treated as one incident, suggesting more dogs may have been stolen.

Gareth Johnson, MP for Dartford, has urged the government to recognised the growing problem of dog theft, as well as the effect is can have on owners.

“It would be good to have a specific offence of the theft of a pet,” he said. “Too often, the theft of a dog is treated in the same way as the theft of a laptop or a mobile phone.”

In response, the Ministry of Justice stated that it was aware of the distress caused to owners but suggested there would be no change in the law in the foreseeable future.

“The maximum penalty for theft is seven years imprisonment and there are no plans to change this.


Dog owners warned over Alabama Rot risk

Vets across the UK have issued a new warning to dog owners after it was revealed that Alabama Rot has affected 14 dogs in the first four months of 2016.

A deadly fungal infection, the disease was first discovered in greyhounds in the US during the 1980s. However, since 2012 it has made a resurgence in the UK, affecting 78 dogs across 16 counties in the last four years.

Vets have suggested that dog owners should look out for the initial signs of the disease, most notably skin sores around the elbow or knee that appear as a swelling, patch of red skin or an ulcer.

Any owners who spot these signs have been advised to consult their vet, who can conduct kidney tests to confirm if the disease is present.

According to Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, treatment for Alabama Rot is only successful in 20-30% of cases, but spotting early signs can increase survival chances.

“If a dog becomes affected the best outcome will probably come from early and intensive veterinary care, which has resulted in some dogs successfully recovering,” he said.

“Any dog owners who are worried that their pet might have Alabama Rot should contact their veterinary practice immediately.”

Although the cause of Alabama Rot is still unknown, the high number of cases that have originated in woodland have prompted Vets4Pets to advise owners to wash of all woodland mud after each walk.

Vets4Pets have also launched a map of confirmed cases, which will reveal if there have been any confirmed cases near you.

Visit the Vets4Pets website to find out more.

Alabama Rot Blamed for 30 dog deaths

Veterinary experts have said that more research is needed into a disease that killed 30 dogs over 18 months.

According to research published in the Veterinary Record journal, the cause of the dogs’ deaths was suspected to be Alabama Rot, which causes skin lesions and kidney failure.

It is still not known how the disease, which is known in the USA, began but possible cases have so far been identified in 71 dogs across England between November 2012 and March 2014.

Dogs from Northamptonshire, Yorkshire, Dorset, Shropshire, Surrey, Cornwall, Worcestershire, County Durham and Monmouthshire have displayed symptoms.

This is the first report of a series of cases in England, with five English springer spaniels, four flat-coated retrievers and two border collies amongst those that have died.

Although the dogs were from multiple locations, 10 had been in the New Forest in Hampshire shortly before becoming unwell.

Most of the dogs developed skin lesions but some also developed tiredness, loss of appetite, vomiting and fever.

Researchers stated that these symptoms were the result of acute kidney injury caused by damage to the small blood vessels in the organs.

The report stated: “Continued detailed evaluation will enhance the understanding of the disease and will hopefully help to identify possible triggers.”

Second Dog Dies After Suspected Antifreeze Poisoning

A nine-year-old staffordshire bull terrier is thought to have become the second victim of antifreeze poisoning after dying shortly after a daily dog walk in Ruislip February.

Molly had just completed a regular walk around Ruislip when she became listless, agitated and tired – symptoms also displayed by labrador Ollie when he was killed by antifreeze poisoning in Ruislip on 10 January.

Although Molly’s owner Miss Wilson decided against further tests to determine the toxin, her friend and dog walker Ms Woolf has stated that Molly’s symptoms were similar to those of Ollie the labrador.

She said: “We didn’t know anything about the symptoms at the time, but after I read about Ollie and the symptoms of antifreeze poisoning, they absolutely 100% applied to Molly.”

Miss Wilson has spoken of her devastation following the incident. “We had Molly nearly a decade, she came first before the kids. She wasn’t ready to go, she was fit and healthy,” she said. “This is a horrible tragedy.”

Hillingdon Council has put up notices around the Ruislip area to draw dog walkers’ attention to the suspected poisonings, urging owners to contact them with any information.

Abandoned dog to be rehomed

A dog that became known as the Paddington Bear of the canine world after being abandoned at a railway station with his belongings in a suitcase is due to be rehomed today.

Kai the Shar Pei became an internet sensation last month after he was tied up and left at Ayr railway station, reportedly following the failure of an arranged sale through internet classified ads site Gumtree.

Shortly after he was abandoned, Kai became the star of a new PETA advert encouraging potential owners to adopt animals responsibly rather than buy them online.

Since being rescued by the Scottish SPCa Kai has also undergone a £600 operation to fix a problem with his eyelids, which was paid for from the £6,000 fund raised for him via an online campaign.

Kai is now fully recovered from his operation and is expected to leave the Scottish SPCA’s Glasgow Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Cardonald this afternoon to be rehomed.

Britain set to get first cloned dog

Britain is set to get its first cloned dog after dog owner Rebecca Smith won a competition and had her pet cloned on a Channel 4 documentary.

“Mini Winnie” was cloned in a test tube at a cost of £60,000 using DNA from Ms Smith’s 12-year-old dachshund.

According to the Mirror, Ms Smith said: “My sausage dog is very special but she is 12 and not going to be around forever. My boyfriend always joked, ‘We need to get her cloned.'”

The procedure was carried out by Sooam Biotech in South Korea, who hope thousands of other Britons will pay the large price tag in order to have their dog reproduced. However, a number of critics have condemned the process, suggesting that owners won’t get the results they’re expecting.

According to Sir Ian Wilmut, who led the team that cloned the first mammal, Dolly the sheep, in 1996, owners will be disappointed. He said: “So much of the personality of a dog comes from the way you treat them. If you spend £60,000 on a cloned dog, you will treat it differently. I am sufficiently sceptical.”

Animal rights group Peta also disagree with the idea of pet cloning. A spokesperson said: “We cannot resurrect animals, but we can give living animals in desperate need a chance at a happy life. Every year, millions of homeless animals are euthanized.”

The Channel 4 documentary Channel 4 documentary called The £60,000 Puppy: Cloning Man’s Best Friend can be found online on 4OD.

Soldier saves bomb dog from death sentence

Soldier Angie McDonnell has saved the life of a bomb-hunting dog that she served alongside in Afghanistan.

While posted at Camp Bastion, Ms McDonnell worked with Vidar, who sniffed out a haul of enemy weapons and saved the lives of British soldiers on a number of occasions.

However, the four-year-old Belgian Malinois faced being put down after he was diagnosed with post-traumatic strew disorder following his two tours abroad.

After hearing the news, army medic Ms McDonnell made it her mission to adopt Vidar and bring him back to her home in South Wales. “He saved my life so it’s only fair that I did what I could to save his,” she said.

She continued: “The dogs out there are heroes and I knew from the first moment I saw him that he was a one-in-a-million. He looked like he needed a cuddle so I went into his kennel and rubbed his belly.

Vidar is now enjoying a happy retirement at Ms McDonnell’s home in Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan.