image captionThe Cole family has owned Jess, 5 (left), and Tigg, 6 (right), since they were puppies and said they were much-loved pets as well as working gun dogs
Much-loved dogs worth “about £50,000” have been stolen from a kennels as thieves scaled a 12-foot fence.
The theft of eight dogs from Wilden in Bedfordshire happened on Sunday night, police said.
The business owner, who did not want to be named, said he had been left “devastated as I love my dogs more than life” and they were “like my children”.
In total, four of his own dogs were taken, along with three that belonged to friends and one that was boarding.
Insp Craig Gurr said the demand for puppies has increased during lockdown and there had been “a surge in puppy thefts, as the price of dogs has almost doubled in some cases”.
Melissa Cole, who had two springer spaniels who were working gun dogs taken, said: “You don’t know the time it goes into teaching them and the feeling that they are in the hands of someone else is awful.”
image captionEight-year-old orange cocker spaniel Mack was staying at the kennels near Bedford as he “feels so at home there”, his owner said
Jan Ball, from Great Barford, had her orange cocker spaniel stolen while the family celebrated the 70th birthday of her husband Ian, who is being treated for cancer.
“Ian is heartbroken, he’s finding this very painful as Mack is just so precious,” she said.
The kennel owner said the black Labrador, two cocker spaniels and five English springer spaniels were taken in about 10 minutes and the thieves also smashed a fire door.
He said the dogs were worth about £50,000, due to breeding and training costs.
Bedfordshire Police said they also received two reports of attempts to steal dogs from gardens in the Lidlington and Ridgmont areas on Sunday evening.