An attempted guide dog theft in Dundee has sparked calls for tougher punishments.
The crime, which left the blind owner unharmed but upset, has been described as like trying to “steal someone’s eyes”.
A woman tried to snatch the dog from the owner’s garden in Foggyley Gardens on Friday.
The owner asked not to be named but a relative described it as trying to “steal someone’s eyes”.
“We dread to think what could have happened,” they added.
It has sparked calls by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association to campaign for a change in the law to impose tougher punishments.
Gemma Findlay, canine assisted services manager at Guide Dogs Scotland, said: “We are currently supporting a guide dog owner in Dundee after they reported the attempted theft of their guide dog.
“The law needs to change to stop dog theft from being a low-risk, high-reward crime, and better reflect how people value their dogs.
“Stealing a dog is not the same as stealing someone’s television, despite the law seeing it this way.
“The theft of a dog is much more like the loss of a loved family member.
“What’s more, blind and visually impaired people rely on their guide dogs for their independence and wellbeing.
“A huge investment of love, time and money over many years has gone into creating each of our incredible guide dog partnerships.”
Fearful guide dog owners
She added: “This year, for the first time, we have been informed of a couple of incidents when someone has attempted to take a guide dog from its owner.
“While such incidents are very rare in relation to how many guide dog partnerships our charity supports, we are concerned about how fearful our guide dog owners are of being a potential target at the moment.”
The incident was reported to police but unfortunately the blind owner was not able to provide a description of the person who tried to take her dog, although she is aware it was a woman.
A spokesman for the force confirmed officers were in attendance following the reports, but nobody was arrested and ‘suitable advice’ was given to the dog owner.
What is the law?
Pet theft is not an offence in its own right in Scotland and such crimes are dealt with in the same way as stealing possessions.
In 2019 there was outcry when a man was fined just £250 after stealing a pug, Pixie, in Dundee.
‘Consequences are too lenient’
A spokeswoman for Missing Pets Dundee and Angus, who are asked to help out in many missing dog cases, said the group was in total agreement with the call for the law to be changed.
She said: “We 100% agree with the Guide Dogs Association and will second their call for a change in the law to stop dog theft from being a low-risk, high-reward crime, and better reflect how people value their dogs.
“We have been advocating for this for a number of years, including when little Pixie was stolen in Dundee.
“Sadly she was never found and the punishment did not fit the crime.
“We work alongside so many families who are victims of having their furbabies stolen, and also lots of different voluntary charities, to help get them back.
“Consequences are too lenient to be a deterrent for these dog thieves. Things must change.”
Spate of dog snatching
This latest attempt to steal a dog comes amidst a spate of recent dog snatching incidents in Dundee.
One incident involved the attempted thefts of dogs in Baxter Park last month.
There were further reported incidents earlier in March near the Dighty Burn between Drumgeith Park and Baldovie, as well as at the Stannergate when a 14-year-old boy was approached by three men, one of whom attempted to take his dog’s lead from him.