Cheshire Police are encouraging people to complete a survey to give their say on dog thefts in the area.
The national survey, which hopes to gain a better public understanding of dog thefts, comes after thefts have risen by 250% in England.
Dog owners will be asked if they have been a victim of dog theft or if they believe sentences should be tougher for criminals.
Cheshire police and crime commissioner David Keane said: “Penalties for dog thefts do not reflect the seriousness of the crime, with a maximum seven-year jail term and offenders very rarely receiving this type of sentence.
“Stealing a dog is an appalling crime and with this increase in thefts, now is the right time to discuss what more we can do to deter criminals from targeting our pets.”
It is believed criminals are exploiting the high prices and demand of puppies.
Owen Sharp, Dogs Trust’s Chief Executive, said: “Demand for dogs is at an all-time high but not only that, our research has shown that prices for some of the UK’s most desirable dog breeds are at their highest in three years, and possibly ever, with the costs for some dogs increasing month on month since lockdown began.
“Given the high demand for dogs and the increase in prices, it is no wonder criminals are taking advantage of the situation.”
The price of Beagles, Chows and Dachschunds have all increased by over 100% since March last year.
“Punishment for dog theft is determined by the monetary value of the dog, meaning perpetrators are often given fines which do not reflect the emotional impact of dog theft on the families involved,” Mr Sharp added.
Although the amount of dog thefts in Cheshire is relatively small, Mr Keane is urging the public to remain vigilant.
In February, thieves posed as RSPCA officers near Derbyshire claiming that owners’ dogs matched that of a stolen dog.
The survey, which takes a minute to complete, will be available until 5pm on the 12th March 2021.
If you wish to take part in the survey, you can access it here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/dogtheft