Coronavirus in dogs Photograph:( AFP )
Criminal gangs in the United Kingdom are capitalising on the demand for puppies which rose exponentially after the pandemic-induced lockdowns in the country
Criminal gangs in the United Kingdom are capitalising on the demand for puppies which rose exponentially after the pandemic-induced lockdowns in the country. After demand rose, criminal gangs stole pedigree dogs which were then used for breeding as prices of pups quadrupled during the pandemic.
Detective Superintendent Neil Austin from the National Police Chiefs' Council in conversation with Sky News said that the work from home model has triggered more people to buy puppies. Due to this, demand has increased, and so has the average price. The average cost of a puppy has gone up from £500 to £2,000.
Austin further claimed that the pet market had become lucrative for criminals, who then exploit it.
One of the victims - Melissa Cole - whose two female springer spaniels - Jess and Tig were stolen, referred to the theft as "organised crime'' in conversation with Sky News. The dogs were stolen from a kennel in Bedforshire in September. Cole added that the thieves were able to trespass metal bars, alarms, and other security paraphernalia in place.
Cole added that she had received videos with ransom demands, and with messages from children who were reportedly being instructed what to say. Calling it "terrifying'', Cole added how giving in to ransom demands would simply encourage more thefts.
Cole was able to retrieve Jess after a police raid. The dog was unfortunately in a bad condition, with Tig still missing.
It is possible that Tig was forwarded to breeders to create more offspring, in a bid to make more profit from the increasing demand. Many dog ownders like Cole fear that the dogs are being bred without being offered veterinary care.
Many animal activists are backing a change in law to classify stolen pets as property, and to increase the length of sentences to reflect the emotional toll it takes on victims.