Dog returned to owner following theft report

Before and after photos of Shetland sheepdog ‘Sonny’.
Shetland sheepdog ‘Sonny’: Before and after his return (having been shaved).

A dog reported stolen in January has been returned to its thankful owner by police after being missing for nearly four weeks.

Thieves broke down a large fence to take two male Shetland sheepdogs from a property in the Almondsbury area between 5pm and 6pm on Sunday 31st January 2021.

One of the dogs was found two days later running loose in the Portway area of Bristol the following week and safely returned.

The other dog, which is three years old, was found in late February at an address in Stoke Bishop. It had been shaved, but following analysis of its microchip it was revealed to be the dog taken from Almondsbury at the end of January.

Three other dogs (pictured below) – a lurcher, Jack Russell and Chihuahua – were found at the same location. Enquiries are ongoing to ascertain who owns them.

Photo of three dogs.
Lurcher, Jack Russell and Chihuahua found at the same location as Sonny.

PC Alex Higham of Avon and Somerset Police’s Operation Remedy team said:

“Our investigation into what happened is continuing. A 53-year-old woman was arrested and has since been released under investigation at this time.”

“Dog thefts are thankfully rare but this investigation shows how important getting your pet microchipped is. Without that, we may not have been able to return one dog to his rightful owner, who was understandably delighted to have him back safe and sound.”

“Anyone with information relating to the theft back in January, or who can assist us in verifying who owns the other dogs, is asked to call 101 quoting reference 5221021985.”

Despite the recent incident, police say there have been only a relatively small number of dog thefts in Avon and Somerset in recent years. They advise owners to observe the following crime prevention advice:

  • Keep your dog’s microchip details up-to-date and ensure they wear a tag with your name, address and phone number – but not the dog’s name
  • Have lots of photos of your dog, including some together with you
  • Make sure your garden is secure
  • Train your dog to come to you when called
  • Vary the time and routes of your walks, if you can
  • Use a reputable kennels or dog-sitting service, ideally through recommendation, and always check references
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Dog theft in South Gloucestershire

Statistics released by Avon and Somerset police show that in South Gloucestershire there was just one recorded dog theft in each of the years 2016, 2017 and 2019. A higher number of eight was recorded in 2018.

In 2020 (the latest period for which detailed data is available) there were five incidents – two from a house, two from a garden/shed and one ‘on a walk’.

In summary, over the five years 2016-20 there were 16 dog theft incidents in South Gloucestershire, an average of just over three per year.

Source: Response to a Freedom of Information request submitted to Avon and Somerset Police

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