A warning has been issued to pet owners to make sure their dogs are not roaming after reports of dog snatchers operating in Derry.
The warning from local animal welfare group Pet FBI follows an incident in Galliagh recently when a pup went missing and a man tried to sell it on.
The dog went missing after a gate was accidentally left open by workmen. Fortunately in this incident, a person who knew the owner was able to identify the dog when an attempt was made to sell it on, and it has since been reunited with its owner.
Daniel Hogan from Pet FBI said that owners who allow their dogs to roam the streets untended are at risk of having their pets stolen.
Mr Hogan said: “People need to stop letting their dogs out on their own.
“The number of dogs out and about is unbelievable, and then when a pet goes missing, people wonder why?
“Letting your dog wander makes them easy targets for people to come along and lift them.
“It could be lifted to be sold on, or for fighting, or also puppy farming. In this incident where the dog got out accidentally, the dog when it was returned had marks on its ears might have been a result of fighting. “
Derry City & Strabane District Council has recently also issued warnings regarding dog straying. Meanwhile, 148 fixed penalties were issued by the council last year for various types of irresponsible dog ownership.