Moped gangs are snatching pets to use in brutal dog fights.
Other pedigree pups are being swiped off the streets to be sold or held for ransom cash.
With thefts at a seven-year high, Craig Anderson, of dog breeders puppylove.com, said criminal gangs are cashing in on the soaring
value of in-demand breeds.
He told the Daily Star on Sunday: “They are either sold after having their ID microchips replaced, put up for ransom or kept by gangs to breed and sell the puppies on.
“Something else we are seeing is that they are being made to fight.”
The Kennel Club’s Dr Ed Hayes said: “Predominately pedigree dogs are being taken, such as French bulldogs and dachshunds.
“But there are older dogs or mixed breeds that are also being taken which they won’t make much money on as a resell – they will be used in dog fights or as bait.”
Chris Luffingham, from the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “ Dog fighting was outlawed nearly 200 years ago but sadly is still a significant animal welfare issue.
“It’s one of the most horrendous forms of animal cruelty, with dogs suffering terrible injuries, sometimes dying in the ring or soon after.”
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Last month, the Star reported on a rising wave of cruel pooch pinchings in the UK.
It has now been confirmed that last year saw a record number of dogs stolen across England and Wales – 2,760 to be exact.
This represents a 13% increase from the 2,438 dogs taken in 2020.
London came out on top as the dog theft capital of the UK with the Metropolitan Police reporting 422 dognappings last year.
That number is more than double the second most at risk region, West Yorkshire, where police reported 199 thefts.
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