• Five more police forces are turning to forensic science to protect dogs after Gloucestershire pioneered the service last year
  • Wiltshire, Avon & Somerset and the Police Service of Northern Ireland have already signed up to DNA Protected Initiative; Surrey and Dyfed Powys will be next with other forces likely to join later
  • Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Nelson said, “I congratulate the Constabulary on leading the way in the introduction of DNA technology and am delighted other forces are following suit”
  • David Hartshorne, managing director of Cellmark Forensic Service said, “We developed the DNA Protected Service to assist with crime prevention and it’s great it’s now being used across the country to combat dog theft”.

Like a dog with a bone, the new way of protecting your pooch is catching-on.

Where Gloucestershire leads, others follow as five more police forces have either supported, or are about to support DNA protected.

Gloucestershire Constabulary was the first police force globally to turn to forensic science in an attempt to deter dog theft. In the last twelve months, Wiltshire, Avon and Somerset and the Police Service of Northern Ireland have signed-up to the scheme known as DNA Protected – although the database is available for dog owners across the country to use. Surrey and Dyfed Powys are scheduled to join them soon with forces in Hampshire and elsewhere also in discussion.

The scheme uses a DNA marker system that has been developed for forensic analysis to help investigate criminal cases involving the theft of dogs. Storing a dog’s DNA profile on a forensic dog DNA database, created by the court-approved testing laboratory Cellmark, will make it easily accessible to Police forces and could help ensure a dog’s safe return if lost or stolen.

David Hartshorne, Managing Director of Cellmark Forensic Services, which has been at the forefront of forensic DNA profiling for over 30 years, said: “We developed the DNA Protected service to assist with crime prevention and to help the police return stolen or lost dogs to their owners.

“Our forensic DNA tools have been used for many years to identify people and investigate crime and it’s great they’re now being used to help combat dog theft, not only in Gloucestershire but all over the UK”.

Protecting your pooch might sound like a slogan, but there is no doubt of the urgency after the trade in stolen dogs prompted a new crime wave and made headlines around the world.

Chief Inspector Emma MacDonald said, “As a force we are committed to doing all that we can to prevent dog thefts from happening. All it takes is a simple swab inside the dog’s mouth to get its unique genetic information registered on the DNA database and provide proof of identity if and when required.

“All of our police dogs have been profiled and given new Velcro patches for their harnesses which shows our confidence in the scheme.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Nelson, who is a supporter of the ‘Protect Your Pooch’ campaign launched by Neighbourhood Watch last year and unveiled his own five point plan to tackle dog theft, said: “Gloucestershire has been at the forefront of moves to recognise the status of all animals. I congratulate the Constabulary on leading the way in the introduction of DNA technology and I’m delighted other forces are following its example.

“Losing your pet at any time is heart-breaking but to do so in such a callous manner, without knowing what’s happened to them, must be unbearable and is why I fully support this innovative way of protecting our pets.”

Find out more about how to get your dog protected in the Police and Crime Commissioner’s annual report https://www.gloucestershire-pcc.gov.uk/annualreport/ or at https://www.dnaprotected.co.uk/.