Dognapper gang targets Tralee's pedigree pooches
Dog owners have been warned to be on the alert for a dognapping gang that is targeting pedigree dogs in Tralee.
The Garda warning came after a man and boy were spotted trying to steal a pedigree dog from its home at Beenoskee in Ballyard recently.
One of the dog snatchers waited in a car while the second - a boy in his early to mid teens - pretended to search the area for a lost pet.
The boy went from driveway to driveway - supposedly calling out for his pet - before spotting a pedigree dog on one property.
He then tried to lure the small dog from the property and towards the waiting car.
A concerned neighbour spotted the pair who immediately fled the scene when he confronted them about what they were doing.
Gardaí in Tralee said they believe the pair are part of a criminal gang who are actively targeting pedigree dogs which can be used for breeding or sold on for a significant amount.
The gang is believed to have stolen - or tried to steal - dogs in other parts of the county in the past and they are urging people, and pet owners in particular, to be vigilant.
The Gardaí believe the gang, who are understood to be Irish, will strike again.
Anyone who sees someone looking for a dog in a similar, suspicious, manner to that seen in Ballyard is asked to contact Tralee Garda Station immediately.
Gardaí say no-one should ever buy a dog from a person they don't know or who isn't a reputable seller. Anyone offered a pedigree animal for sale is also asked to make contact with gardaí.
Dognapping - a relatively low risk crime with potentially huge financial rewards - is becoming extremely prevalent in Ireland. There are approximately 200 dogs per week stolen across the country.
Gangs usually target pedigree dogs which have the greatest value and are the easiest to sell but increasingly dogs are being stolen at random and dumped later if they are found to have little sale value or if they have been neutered, which renders them useless for breeding.
To prevent a dog being stolen gardaí say the best approach - as with any valuable - is to make it as difficult for a thief to get to it.
For example when your are out don't leave dogs out in a back gardens - even with high walls - and never leave them tied up and alone outside a shop.
If your pet is out in the back garden, make sure the area is secured and not easily accessible via a wall, gate, railing or hedges.
Microchipping will not prevent a pet being stolen and it won't help in finding them, as the chips are not typically GPS systems - however, they do provide a measure of traceability.