Cumbria Times
Weekend Edition
6:07 PM 17th March 2021

Survey Finds 79% Of Dog Owners Fearful Of Walking Their Dog

More than three-quarters of dog owners say they’re more scared of walking their pet because of the heightened risk that it’ll be stolen, according to a major new study.

124,729 people, all residents in the UK, responded to a landmark online survey, with an overwhelming majority saying that dog theft was a “serious problem” and thieves should face stiffer sentences.

The survey, promoted by Philip Allott the Conservative North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner candidate who has promised tough action on dog thefts, was arranged by Katy Bourne and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, and comes amid growing evidence that dogs have become a target for criminals.

Of those surveyed, 97% said that dog theft is a serious problem. 22% had had a dog stolen or known someone who had over the last year, and 79% of people to whom the question was applicable said they had grown more fearful of taking their dog for a walk during the day. 83% have grown more fearful of taking their dog for a walk at night

There was also strong support for changing the law to reflect the emotional impact of having a pet stolen. At present, dog theft is not defined as a specific crime, with dogs classed as ‘property’ under the Theft Act 1968.

According to the survey, 87% said that because pets provide those who care for them with companionship, sentencing guidelines should reflect this and disagreed that the theft of a pet should be categorised under property theft.

The survey, the largest ever conducted will be used to help shape police recording and response to dog theft and could also influence how the crime is defined.

About a third of respondents said they would like their local police force to take dog theft more seriously, rating them as poor at responding to their concerns; 48% said they didn’t know how effective their local force was in protecting the public from this crime.

Philip Allott said:
“If elected I will talk to the Chief Constable about how we might be able to use this survey data to action stronger enforcement and to put in place more preventative measures.

“There is a clear message that police forces need to communicate better with the public on this issue. Public perception and fear have increased massively, so much so that nearly 83% of respondents are scared of walking their dogs at night. I fully support redefining pet theft as a specific crime.”

This fourteen-question survey was conducted online via Survey Monkey and ran for three weeks from 19th February to 12th March. The Office of the Sussex PCC collated the results with the APCC.