As many as 1 million Britons believe their cat or dog has been stolen in the last five years, new research from Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance has revealed.
According to the Missing Pets Bureau, 38 per cent of dogs reported to them as missing have actually been stolen. These figures indicate that pet theft is a real risk and should be taken seriously.
Money is often the motivation behind pet theft, according to Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance
some pets such as Bengal cats are very expensive to buy and a thief could sell them on for anything between £500 and £1,000.
Breeding is also another way for thieves to capitalise from pet theft, pedigree dogs can sell for thousands whereas some criminals will go as far as holding a pet to ransom, demanding money from their owners.
Head of Pet Insurance at Sainsbury’s Finance, Steve Johnson, said: "It’s difficult to know the full scale of dog and cat theft because it’s impossible to know for sure if the cat or dog has been stolen, lost or suffered an accident.
"The scale of the problem is also underestimated because it’s not always reported to the police – only 12 per cent of people who have lost their pet over the past five years actually notified them."
Some pet insurance
providers do cover towards the cost of tracking down a stolen pet, through tags, posters and rewards, but Sainsbury’s Finance believes this cover should be included automatically.
Mr. Johnson continued: "Around a quarter of all pet insurance policies offer no reward for the return of lost or stolen cats and dogs and will not provide financial assistance to owners who want to try and find their missing pet by placing advertisements. We think this should be covered as standard."
The research showed that English Springer Spaniels, Border Terriers and Labrador Retrievers were the dog breeds most likely to be stolen; popular cats included Burmese, Persian and Siamese.
For those questioned who had experienced the loss of a cat or dog in the past five years, 71 per cent said they would turn to their neighbours for help, and 44 per cent put up posters in their neighbourhood. Pet insurance can cover these costs, but experts advise shopping around to ensure this.
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