DOG owners are being urged to swab their four-legged friends to keep them safe from thieves. 

Wiltshire Police is the second force in the world to put all police dogs on the DNA register, after Gloucestershire.

Criminals have become creative in their methods as more and more thieves have taken to cutting microchips out of dogs.

This new DNA testing initiative ensures there’s a permanent record of a dog’s DNA on a central register and aims to dissuade potential thieves.

Chief Inspector Matthew Armstrong told BBC Radio Wiltshire: “Microchips planted under the skin can be removed and we have seen that happen.

“The thing with DNA is it’s individual to the dog and it stays with that dog for life.”

Nationally there have been higher levels of dog thefts over the last 18 months. 

Wiltshire has bucked the trend with 11 dog thefts or attempted thefts reported this year. In all cases, dogs were reunited with their owners.

Inspector Gill Hughes, who was key in progressing the initiative said: “Nationally, there have been much higher levels of dog thefts, especially as prices for puppies climbed due to soaring demand during the periods of lockdown. 

“We are ever-mindful of the distress that is caused by the loss of a beloved pet wherever it happens.

“I would encourage dog owners, especially those with high-value pedigree dogs, to consider buying a DNA test kit and registering their dogs on the national register. 

“It will make it harder for thieves to sell your pet and easier for us to return a dog to its rightful owner should it be stolen or even lost.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson joined police officers, police dogs and representatives from Cellmark Forensic Services to show how easy it is to take a DNA swab sample for recording and registration.

He said: “Sadly, dog thieves are trying to find ways of getting around the tried and trusted system of microchipping, causing distress and injury to dogs which have been stolen.”

Cellmark Forensic Services has provided specialist forensic DNA services to the police for over 30 years.

Test kits can be bought for £74.99 from