Original article from Kent Live
A Crimestoppers campaign to stop puppy theft and smugging has been launched in Kent.
It comes after a massive 250 per cent increase in dog thefts in the South East region during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Crimestoppers, an independent crime-fighting charitable organisation in the UK, is appealing for anonymous information on the individuals behind puppy smuggling, illegal breeding and organised dog theft in Kent.
Their four-week campaign, funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent, aims to reach out to people who know or suspect individuals involved in organised puppy crime.
They want to reminds people that they can contact Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously with any information they have, however small it may be.
According to the DogLost charity website, dog theft cases have increased by 33 per cent since 2018 in the southeast region, to a high of 163 last year and nationwide. There has also been a 250 per cent increase in dog thefts during the pandemic.
Peter Rollington, Chairman of the Crimestoppers in Kent Volunteer Committee, said: “We know criminal gangs have been profiting from the pandemic and your desire to have a canine companion, which is totally unacceptable. The money handed over could actually be funding organised crime.
“It’s possible that a puppy bought from a criminal hasn’t been locked after well or vaccinated, which could contribute to the spread of disease and the puppy getting ill and dying prematurely.
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“It is important to take the time to ensure you are buying a puppy from an authorised breeder. Or alternatively look at taking on a dog from one of the many well-run rescue centres who have many dogs who are desperate for a loving home.
“If you are suspicious of a seller, you can tell the independent charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously. Since 1988, when Crimestoppers began, we have always kept our promise of anonymity to the millions who have trusted us with their crime information.
“You can call our UK Contact Centre, which is open 24/7, on freephone number 0800 555 111 or you can fill out our simple and secure anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
“Your information could make all the difference putting a stop to puppy crime.”
The campaign encourages people to spot the signs that something may not be quite right when buying a new dog.
Here’s what you need to know before purchasing a puppy:
The price isn’t right. Being offered an expensive breed for a ‘too-good-to-be-true’ price is a big warning sign and the poor welfare of a dog is the cost.
The puppy is too young. Puppies should not be taken from their mum until they are at least eight weeks old in the UK. Outside of the UK, it is 15 weeks. A good breeder will never sell puppies younger than this. Also be concerned if there is no image of the puppy’s mum on the advert, or there is only an image of the mother alone.
Lots of breeds for sale. Criminals often have many breeds available at the same time and won’t be able to answer your questions about them. A reputable breeder usually specialises in one breed and knows all about them.
Strange meeting places. Criminals will often suggest meeting somewhere public, like a car park, to show you the puppies. This is a big warning sign as they don’t want you to see the conditions the puppies are kept in.