CONCERNED dog owners have established Doggo Hood Watch in West Cork to protect their pets from being stolen.
Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) is one of approximately 2,400 people who have joined the Facebook group since it was established on July 31st last.
‘Pet owners have got to the stage where enough is enough,’ said the councillor, who highlighted the fact that the theft of dogs in West Cork had reached ‘an all-time high.’
He pointed out that there have been some good news stories about animals being reunited with their owners, but he warned, ‘the problem persists’.
The temporary Facebook group has been established to alert people about suspicious activity that could lead to the kidnapping of an animal.
‘It’s really very sinister,’ said Cllr Hayes. ‘People are reporting that pillars or perimeter walls are being marked with chalk, or cable ties, which seem to signify that there is a valuable dog on the premises.
‘The group asks people to look out for any sign that their property is being monitored and their pet targeted for dog-napping.’
On a recent weekend, he said, there were reports that 10 dogs had been taken in the Dunmanway and Macroom area alone.
‘The problem has got so bad,’ he added, ‘that I believe the law should be changed to reflect the gravity of the offence.’
The councillor appealed to people not to get their pets from an unknown source but to go instead to a reputable business or an animal shelter.
Meanwhile, the penalty for stealing a family pet should be put on a par with the crime of abduction, according to Fine Gael Cllr John O’Sullivan.
The Bandon Kinsale Municipal District member has drafted a letter he’d like people to sign calling on the members of the Oireachtas to pass legislation that would involve harsher penalties for those convicted of stealing dogs, or indeed any family pet.
‘The present situation is causing distress in many family homes,’ he said, ‘with people of all ages worried that they could lose their beloved pet.’
His Fianna Fáil Council colleague, Cllr Sean O’Donovan (FF), who is a member of the Doggo Hood Watch group, welcomed the fact that DoneDeal has responded to public pressure and temporarily suspended the sale of dogs on its site.