NEARLY every week, reports of the kidnapping of dogs – from back gardens, from their homes, or even while they’re out for a walk – hit the headlines.

“Dognapping” is an alarming, growing epidemic. Thieves know that “purebred” and “designer” dogs sell for high sums, and they don’t give a damn about the emotional bonds between the animals and their guardians.

To help keep animals safe, it’s vital that everyone microchip their animal companions, keep that information up to date, and maintain a watchful eye on their animals, acting swiftly if one goes missing.

If the worst happens, it’s imperative to contact the police as well as local animal shelters and veterinarians immediately, put up posters, and even get the media involved.

Those who pay for puppies from breeders or online – rather than looking to legitimate rescue groups and animal shelters – contribute to problems like theft and fuel the greedy pet trade, denying animals in shelters the chance to find love and security.

By adopting, you can save a homeless animal’s life – and help take price tags off other dogs’ heads.

Jennifer White,

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,

All Saints Street,