With dog thieves clearing microchips, dog owners in Wiltshire are encouraged to record their pet’s DNA.
The DNA is taken from the dog by means of a painless smear and the result is recorded in a database.
Should the dog be found again after the theft, the DNA can enable the animal to be identified and returned to its owner.
Inspector Gill Hughes, who was instrumental in developing this initiative, said: âNationally, there has been a lot more dog theft in the last 18 months, especially as puppy prices have risen due to increased demand during curfew.
Fortunately, Wiltshire and Swindon have not seen as many dog ââthefts as some counties, but we are always aware of the hardship caused by the loss of a loved one, wherever it happens.
âI would encourage dog owners, especially those with high quality pedigree dogs, to buy a DNA test kit and have their dogs registered in the national registry.
“It will make it harder for thieves to sell your pet and it will make it easier for us to return a dog to its rightful owner if it is stolen or lost.”
So far this year there have been only 11 reports of theft or attempted dog theft in the Force area. In all cases, the dogs were reunited with their owners.
Philip Wilkinson, Police and Detective Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: âWhile we have not seen the same level of dog theft in Wiltshire as we have in places like South Wales, it does not mean that we should be complacent when it comes to protecting our pets and working dogs. ”
“Unfortunately, dog thieves are trying to find ways to bypass the proven system of the microchip, which causes suffering and injury to stolen dogs.”
âThat’s why we’re following the example of our colleagues in Gloucestershire by adding our police dogs to the DNA register, making us the second force in the world to do so. ”
DNA Protected is an initiative of Cellmark Forensic Services, a company that has provided specialized forensic DNA services to the police force for more than 30 years.
“We are excited to work with the Wiltshire Police Department to prevent and combat dog theft,” said David Hartshorne, General Manager of Cellmark Forensic Services.
“The Canine Forensic DNA Database gives dog owners access to powerful DNA technology that, in the worst case scenario, can be used to help police identify a lost or stolen dog and return it to its owner.”
The Canine Forensic DNA Database has been developed in accordance with the strict requirements of the Forensic Science Regulator’s Codes of Conduct and Conduct for Reference Collections and Databases and is maintained in accordance with all required ISO accreditation standards.
Test kits can be purchased directly from the company’s website for Â£ 74.99.