Luke Sims and his therapy dog Pippa.

The increase in dog thefts has been linked to the higher demand in dogs during the lockdown, as many people wish to have a companion during the lockdown and their additional time at home.

This demand has also led to a significant increase in the price of dogs, with Pets4Homes identifying that the average price of a puppy in 2020 was £1,875, which is an increase of 131 per cent of the £808 average cost of a puppy in 2019.

Nottinghamshire Police have advised people to be cautious when choosing someone to care for your dogs whilst you are at work or on holiday, and to keep all documentation relating to your dog in a safe place.

They also advise people not to leave their pet tied up and unattended, such as outside of a shop, to make sure that their gardens are secure and to be aware of strangers who show an interest in your dog, and not to let them take photos with them.

The law now requires people to make sure their dog wears a collar and ID tag when in a public place, and for them to be microchipped and registered to an approved database before they are 8 weeks old.

Almost two thousand people across Nottinghamshire have signed a petition calling for dog theft to be made a specific criminal offence due to the recent increase in reports of dog theft.

As for many people a dog is not just a pet, it is a beloved family member, and having a dog stolen or even losing a dog can cause a family a great deal of pain.

Sheila Shims, of Coddington, lost her dog, Pippa, after she ran out of the front door at a friends house in the nearby village of Winthorpe.

She said: “Pippa is our tiny baby, Luke’s therapy dog and a much-loved family member…It’s breaking our hearts.

Missing dog Pippa from Nottinghamshire.

“I wish for a magic wand to make Luke’s wish come true, we need her home, she is a naughty child and so mischievous but made us smile, which to an autistic child is so important.

Although it has been a few weeks since Pippa was last seen, the family remain hopeful and urge people to keep an eye out for her.

Pippa is described as a small poodle cross with a white and silver under-belly, who is also very timid.

Anyone who sees her or has information should call 07792569325.