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One in five pet owners who have lost their dogs and cats suspect theft

5th December 2011 Print

According to new research from Sainsbury's Pet Insurance, some 19% of people who have had a pet cat or dog go missing during the past five years suspect their animal was stolen. Pedigree cats and dogs can be worth thousands of pounds and are usually stolen for breeding, with thieves standing to make large financial gains from the resale of the animal itself or its offspring. Just as sinister are those instances where pet owners are held to ransom for the safe return of their pet.

A number of high profile pet theft cases have been reported over the last few years, including Bruce Forsyth, Liz Hurley and Paris Hilton, who either made appeals or offered a reward for the return of their animals.

Overall, 8% of cat and dog owners have lost their pets over the past five years and never saw them again.  In total, at some stage since 2006, 27% of owners lost their pets; some 9% believe that it is ‘very likely' their pet was stolen and 10% think it is ‘quite likely' they were taken.

Commenting on the findings, Helen Williams, Head of Sainsbury's Pet Insurance, said: "Unfortunately Pets frequently go missing, they may escape the garden boundary or simply be taken when the owner is not looking, making for a very stressful time. There is a lot you can do to increase the chances of finding your lost pet, including making sure that they are micro-chipped, however, our research shows that 37% of cats and dogs are not chipped."

Sainsbury's Pet Insurance offers £1,000 towards the advertising costs to find lost pet cats and dogs that it insures.  It also offers £250 towards a reward for the pet to be returned and £750 if the animal strays or is stolen.

Sainsbury's Finance's offers the following tips for pet owners to keep their pets safe:

Make sure your pet has a collar, with its name and a contact number attached

Get your pet micro-chipped - this takes seconds and is virtually painless. Consult your local vet for details

Keep garden boundaries as secure as possible to prevent your dog from escaping, this will also help deter thieves

Always supervise your dog, whether in public or out in the garden

Avoid tying your dog up outside a shop or leaving it unattended

If you use a dog walker, make sure they are trustworthy

When walking your dog, vary your routes

Neutering your pet might help to recover them sooner should they be taken for breeding purposes.

Quality pet insurance does not need to be expensive, good cover at a competitive price can be found by shopping around for the best deal, and its essential to compare policies on a like for like basis - comparing on price alone could be disastrous. Sainsbury's Pet Insurance offers an extensive range of benefits at a competitive price.  For further information, visit