Sussex pet detective’s warning after Lady Gaga’s dog-walker was shot during robbery

A pet detective has warned that the 'worrying trend' of violent dog thefts could soon be more common in Sussex.

Former police sergeant Colin Butcher, from Wisborough Green, said he has been informed in the last three months of more robberies of dogs, across the country, 'than I've seen in the last five years'.

It comes after a high profile recent case in the US last week, where Lady Gaga's dog-walker was shot and two of her bulldogs stolen.

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The dogs have since been found unharmed after the pop star offered a $500,000 (£359,282), 'no questions asked', reward for their safe return. Police have yet to identify any suspects and it is not known if Lady Gaga did hand over the reward to the woman who found her dogs.

Colin Butcher established The UK Pet Detectives in 2005. Photo: Steve Robards

Mr Butcher said he was 'very disappointed' with Lady Gaga's reaction, fearing that it could encourage other criminals to demand ransoms from their victims.

"I was annoyed when I saw it," he added. "It doesn't help all the thousands of people still trying to find their dogs.

"They don't have that kind of wealth to buy their dogs back with no questions asked. It compounds the problem for dog owners.

"The guy had been shot in the chest so you know you are going to get a team of detectives investigating an attempted murder. If anyone is going to get your dogs back for you, it's that police investigation because they will have the resources.

"The $500,000 dollar reward was a little bit sensational and drew an awful lot of attention to her."

Mr Butcher said he and his team have been told by 'dozens of women' that they carrying sprays and rape alarms to protect themselves whilst walking their dog alone.

He said: "It's the fear induced in dog owners. They think it's too dangerous to go dog walking.

"There was a knifepoint robbery in the north of England, where the owner was threatened with being stabbed, before making off with his dog.

"There was a case in Kent where a woman in her 70s was confronted by a man in a balaclava. He grabbed hold of the dogs and ran off. Lord knows what would have happened if she put up a struggle.

"That kind of offence was unheard of a few years ago. It started to creep in, in late 2019. It was still very infrequent, with maybe three a year.

"The last three months, we've had so many. It's a very worrying trend."

Mr Butcher said 'desperate people do desperate things', adding: "The longer we stay we in lockdown, the harder it is for people with addictive type problems to feed their habits.

"That's why you see desperation in some attacks.

"It's only a matter of time before we end up with somebody seriously hurt."