Dog owners in Cheshire are being invited by police and crime commissioner David Keane to have their say on dog thefts.
He is encouraging local residents to complete a new national survey, which aims to gain a better understanding of public views on the issue.
It comes after a reported spate of incidents nationally, with experts believing a hike in prices and demand for puppies seen during the coronavirus pandemic is being exploited by criminals.
According to Dog Lost, the UK’s largest lost and found dog service, it is estimated thefts have risen by 250% across the country.
The Government is now reviewing the issue of pet theft, what future enforcement may look like and whether there should be potentially tougher penalties for offenders.
The survey asks dog owners if they have been a victim of dog theft and whether they are scared to carry out normal care duties for their pet, such as walking their dogs at night. It also asks whether owners would support longer sentences for thieves.
Although the number of dog thefts reported in Cheshire is relatively small, Mr Keane is urging pet owners to be on their guard.
He said: “Dogs and other pets are a huge part of our families and home lives. Losing a pet is like losing a loved one and it is particularly more tragic when there’s criminal activity involved.
“We know that demand for dogs as pets has increased during the lockdown restrictions. The cost of some puppies is currently as high as £3,000, which unfortunately makes them a valuable asset to criminals.”
The 60-second survey is open until 5pm, Friday . Take part online at surveymonkey.co.uk/r/dogtheft.