Last month, over 100 dog owners descended in to Bradford’s City Park to highlight the rise in dog theft across the country. Backed by the ‘Find Murphy’ campaign, many dog lovers expressed their concern about the lack of help the victims are receiving from the police.
One campaigner we spoke to told us, “Dog theft is rising day by day and in Bradford alone, there are dogs being stolen on a daily basis.” She continued, “The problem is that when we report a stolen dog to the police, they do not take it seriously and the likelihood of the dog being found is remote.”
One of the more high profile cases highlighting dog theft was that of Murphy, who went missing on 4 December 2014. Murphy, a Siberian Husky was out walking with his owner, Andy Smith, and after running loose from his leash, Murphy was taken by strangers driving a blue estate car in Bradford 7.
Since the theft of Murphy, Mr Smith started an online campaign setting up Facebook pages and twitter accounts with the hope of tracking down Murphy and at the same time to highlight the increase in dog theft in Bradford and across the country.
Celebrities and politicians have also joined the cause and last month Bradford MP Philip Davies mentioned the issue at the House of Commons after attending the campaign.
Speaking to Murphy’s owner Andy Smith, he told Urban Echo, “I just want my Murphy back. I have offered a reward of £1500 to anyone who can hand him back to me. There will be no questions asked.”
“Dog theft is a real problem and obviously I have noticed it more since Murphy was stolen. Only last month, someone got in touch with me telling that 5 dogs were stolen from the same house and one of them was heavily pregnant too. They were taken by a group of men pretending to from the RSPCA.”
Asked about how the police have responded to Murphy’s loss, he states, “The other problem is that the police are not admitting that dog theft is on the rise. We all know it is but it seems that thay are turning a blind eye to it. I have hundreds of people contacting me on a weekly basis informing me of their dog being stolen.”
The value of a Siberian Husky such as Murphy varies between £300 – £800, but more valuable to that is the bond between the dog and the owner as many household pets are regarded as a member of the family.
However, West Yorkshire Police state that they take all reports of theft very seriously. Speaking to Urban Echo, they state, “We take all reports of theft extremely seriously and work with householders and businesses to offer crime prevention advice.
“In particular with dogs, we would encourage their owners to get them micro-chipped and ideally keep them indoors or in secure premises when home alone. Where a dog has not been micro-chipped, it can be difficult to trace them and return them to their rightful owner.”
It appears that dog theft is a real issue in the city and across the country and we can only hope that Murphy is found safe and well and returned to his owner. With the help of campaigners, residents and the West Yorkshire Police, let’s all do what we can to help get Murphy home.
If anyone has any information regarding Murphy’s whereabouts, please contact 07759 851895 or tweet @findmurphyhusky #getmurphyhome or contact West Yorkshie Police.