Dog thieves strike again - five working basset hounds stolen from kennels near Harborough
There have been a number of recent cases - just five days ago, a pensioner’s beloved pet cockapoo called Logan was stolen from a boarding kennels at North Kilworth, less than two miles away
A massive search is going ahead today for five working basset hounds stolen from a high-profile pack’s kennels in a Harborough village as police hunt the culprits.
The highly-trained dogs, owned by the historic Westerby Basset Hounds, were taken when their kennels on Walcote Road, South Kilworth, near Lutterworth, were broken into on Wednesday night (February 17) or early on Thursday morning.
The thieves struck just five days after a pensioner’s beloved pet cockapoo called Logan was stolen from a boarding kennels at North Kilworth – less than two miles away.
Police have now released pictures of the five dogs stolen from South Kilworth as they issued an urgent appeal for information to find them.
The criminals broke in to the kennels through a hedgerow between 5pm on Wednesday and 7.30am on Thursday.
They then made off with two male and three female basset hounds.
All of the dogs - Landlord, Bashful, Lattice, Drama and Banish - were microchipped.
Sgt Paul Archer, of Leicestershire Police, said: “This is another upsetting incident for the owners of these dogs and we are carrying out investigations to try and find them.
“We would urge anyone who has seen the dogs or has any information that could help us find them to get in touch.”
He added: “We would also ask all dog owners – and particularly those operating kennels – to ensure their property is secure.
“Anyone with any information is asked to call 101 quoting reference 21*97226.”
The police investigation is being launched as both Harborough MP Neil O’Brien and South Leicestershire MP Alberto Costa call for much tougher sentences for criminals who steal dogs as well as other pets.
Westerby Basset Hounds kennel huntsman Sophie Cripps said the theft of their dogs is “truly devastating for everyone involved” as she appealed to people to back the snowballing mission to get them back.
Sophie said: “We urge as many people as possible to raise awareness and help us to bring these hounds back home to our kennels with the rest of the pack.”
The five stolen dogs all belong to the only pack of working English basset hounds in Leicestershire.
They are regularly seen exercising and following trails across Harborough and South Leicestershire.
Polly Portwin, of the Countryside Alliance, said the latest of a string of dog thefts in the district is “incredibly sad”.
“These are working basset hounds that are part of a pack and the perpetrators of this evil crime must be brought to justice and the hounds returned home swiftly,” she said.
“This latest theft is sadly one of a number of recent thefts of dogs and working breeds that we are witnessing right across the country.
“We urge all dog owners to be incredibly vigilant in our ongoing fight against these criminals.”
The Westerby Bassets’ country extends from Melton Mowbray to Daventry and from Nuneaton to Uppingham.
They descend from the famous Walhampton Basset Hounds, founded in 1889 by Christopher and Godfrey Heseltine at Lymington in the New Forest.
A spokesman for Animal Search, a leading agency for missing pets in the United Kingdom, said there has been a “huge rise” in dog thefts reported to them.
He said: “Demand has skyrocketed because of lockdown, where people now have more time to spend with their new pets and train them.”
The Countryside Alliance is now issuing urgent advice on working dog and dog theft prevention: https://www.countryside-alliance.org/news/2020/10/gundog-theft-awareness-week-2020The latest dogs theft comes as furious Harborough MP Neil O’Brien told the Harborough Mail: “The recent upsurge in the number of pet thefts across the district is a huge concern and something we need to tackle urgently.
“I’ve heard from dog owners in my constituency who are now too worried to take their dogs out for walks in the evenings or in remote areas because of the fear of having them snatched.
“And that’s simply not right or acceptable.”
He added: “The hurt and anguish this can cause families is considerable to say the least.
“I fully support the need for tougher sentencing to act as a stronger deterrent here.”
Neil is backing his Conservative colleague Alberto Costa, MP for South Leicestershire.
Alberto has now written to Home Secretary Priti Patel demanding tougher sentences for pet thieves.
He’s acting amid a reported stunning 250 per cent spike in pet thefts nationwide as demand for dogs has soared.
Alberto said he was “shocked” by the theft of cockapoo Logan from kennels in North Kilworth and eight miniature Dachshunds from a home in Acresford, near Measham, as well as incidents in Broughton Astley and Gilmorton, near Lutterworth.
Logan has now been reunited with his overjoyed owner Liz White, 68, after being found running wild near Coalville – as we reported in the Harborough Mail earlier this week.
Alberto said: “As a dog owner myself, I know that our pets hold a very special place as members of our families, and the theft of these beloved animals is a particularly abhorrent and damaging crime.
“For many, our pets are our best friends and hugely important companions.
“The emotional toll of having your animal taken from you can cause unimaginable strain and anguish.
“As such, these factors should absolutely be reflected in stronger legislation and sentencing in order to deter such senseless crimes and punish those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.”
He stressed: “I have been shocked to hear of some of the truly awful instances of people’s beloved animals being taken both locally and nationally.
“And with rates of pet theft soaring I would strongly encourage all animal owners to be extra vigilant in the coming weeks.
“I know pet owners are among the most responsible in society.
“However, with the majority of dogs stolen being taken from gardens, I would ask local people to ensure their gardens are secure and to please not leave animals unattended outside shops or in cars.”