There was only one dog reported missing in Mayo in the month of July, despite widespread concerns about a rise in dognappings, The Mayo News has learned.
The dog in question was returned to its owner two days later. Concerns have been raised on social media in recent weeks by dog owners who believe that have had their houses marked with white chalk, cable ties or screws.
Households in Ballinrobe and the surrounding areas have had their fences, gates or walls marked in such a manner in recent days. There have also been reports of markings being left on houses in the Westport, Claremorris, Ballyhaunis and Swinford areas.
Detective Superintendent Joe McKenna told The Mayo News that gardaí have received ‘reports from all over the county’ about such markings being left on houses.
However, he urged households to report any such activity to Gardaí immediately, adding that they will patrol any areas where they had received reports.
He also said that such activity might not be to do with dog thefts, saying that ‘it wouldn’t be beyond possibility that they’re doing this just to wind people up’.
The demand for pet dogs has seen an increase recently in light of the Covid-19 lockdown.
“Because of the pandemic, dogs have become good company for a lot of people who were cocooning. Because of that, the value of dogs jumped, particularly thoroughbreds,” he said.
Mayo County Council Dog Warden Laura Mulligan said that there haven’t been any reports of dogs stolen in the county for a number of months.
Speaking to The Mayo News on Monday (yesterday) about the markings left on houses she said: “I think there’s an element of trying to mess with people’s heads. If people were genuinely going out to steal dogs they wouldn’t be leaving a marker.”
She added: “Somebody could just take an Eircode [from outside the house] and pass it on to someone else.”
She said that dog owners shouldn’t leave their dogs unattended in their gardens and should ensure that they cannot be coaxed out by anybody. She also encouraged dog owners to get their dogs microchipped and ensure that the ownership details are up to date.
“It’s the only way we can get a dog back to its owner, because the dog can’t tell us who owns it” she said.
“Owners should make sure that their dogs’ microchips are registered with Fido, Any Mark, The Irish Kennel Club or Microdog ID,” she added.
Gardaí say that there are four main reasons people steal dogs; resale, ransom, breeding and fighting. In a statement, Gardaí have said they are aware there has been a number of dog thefts throughout the country recently.
“However, the number of incidents reported to gardaí do not reflect a significant increase
in dog theft. If your dog has been stolen, report the matter to your local Garda Station as soon as possible,” said the statement.
Gardaí are also appealing to the public to take extra crime prevention measures when it comes to caring for their pets, particularly high-value breeds of dogs.
These include micro-chipping of dogs and not leaving there pets unattended in cars or tied up soutside of public places.