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Last Updated: Saturday July 12 2008 12:29 GMT

Violent gangs stealing dogs

Sleeping dogs

Violent gangs are stealing pet dogs to make money quickly, according to an animal charity.

Dog Lost says they take about 100 calls a week from owners who think their dogs have been stolen.

It's thought the gangs look for rare or expensive dogs, which will be easy to sell to unsuspecting new owners.

The charity says owners should microchip their dog to make it identifiable and vary routes taken on walks to avoid a possible attack.

Dogs quiz
A Chinese crested dog
It's important to remember that dog thefts are still quite rare.

Jane Hayes, of Dog Lost, said often certain dogs - particularly lurchers, terriers and Labradors - were stolen to order.

But also there were times when dogs were stolen on the off-chance: "People see a dog tied up outside a shop, they walk off with it and sell it round the corner in the local pub for 20, 30."