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Cambridgeshire dog owners warned to keep animals safe from increasing risk of theft.
The Countryside Landowners Association is warning its members to keep their dogs within sight and kept in a secure location this summer to cut the chances of being a victim of thieves.
A total of 217 dogs were reported stolen in the CLA's eastern region during 2013 - with 27 from Cambridgeshire- and this figure is expected to rise because the animals can often be sold quickly and not easily traced.
CLA Eastern Regional Director Nicola Currie said: "The temptation on a hot day is to let your dog go unattended into your garden, or out on your land, to find some cool shade. It's also easy to let it run free and go out of sight while you are on walks.
"Unfortunately, this offers thieves a golden opportunity to take your animal.
"Many dogs are targeted by thieves because they can make money selling them on, often for breeding or for fighting. By leaving a valuable and much-loved animal in your garden in sight of a road or a public right of way gives thieves a chance to monitor your movements and security arrangements with a view to possibly stealing it to order."
DogLost.co.uk, which helps reunite owners with lost animals, has noted a dramatic increase in the thefts of gundogs nationally since the laws surrounding metal theft were tightened in December 2012.
Half of all stolen dogs in 2013 were gundogs according to the website, which reports that 160 labradors, 97 cocker spaniels, and 80 springer spaniels were registered as missing in the first quarter of 2014.
"Gundog owners should always be aware of where their animal is while they are on a shoot and make sure it is never out of the sight of guns, beaters or pickers-up," said Mrs Currie.
The CLA is recommending that dog owners cut the risk of theft by ensuring their animal is microchipped and wears a collar and ID tag, which should offer your full contact details.
If your dog is stolen, you are recommended to report it to the Police immediately, asking for a crime reference number, and contact your local dog warden. You should also check local animal rescue centres and consider using a website such as DogLost.co.uk and social media to circulate details of your dog as widely as possible.
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