British police force using dog DNA to tackle pet thefts

The Gloucestershire Constabulary says it’s the first police force in the world to use dog DNA to help investigate stolen dogs

By Suzie Ziegler

GLOUCESTER, England — A police force in England says it’s the first in the world to use canine DNA to investigate missing or stolen dogs.

According to the Gloucestershire Constabulary, officers now have access to a national dog DNA database and forensic service called DNA Protected.

The service sells at-home lab kits for dog owners who want to proactively protect their furriest family member. Owners can purchase the kits for £62.49 (about $87 U.S. dollars), swab their pooch’s mouth and return the sample by mail. The kits are available online, but the constabulary says it will soon carry the product in their community engagement vehicles.

“There has been a national rise in dog thefts since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic and I am hopeful that this initiative will help to reassure owners and protect the dogs of Gloucestershire,” said Temporary Chief Inspector Emma MacDonald in a statement last week. “Dog theft can have a massive impact on the owner and their families as dogs are often seen as family members.”

MacDonald says police are leading by example, starting with their own K-9s.

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

"Gloucestershire Constabulary's Forensic Services department is very proud to be part of this ground-breaking initiative,” said Chris Allen, the force’s head of forensic services. “I am confident that DNA Protected will greatly assist police in reducing the heartbreaking crime of dog theft and reuniting pets with their owners in the future."

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