Gardaí in Limerick are looking to reunite a number of lovable pets with their owners after 10 dogs, believed to be stolen, were seized.
The dogs were found by gardaí after a search of a property in Rathkeale on Saturday.
The seizure comes amid a surge in dog thefts reported across social media.
The news of thefts, as well as the apparent use of “markers” to identify targets, have been a cause of concern for dog owners up and down the country.
Of the ten dogs seized, a cavalier king Charles has already been reunited with its owner. Gardaí are now trying to find the rest of the dogs' homes.
The dogs were uncovered when a district drugs unit from Newcastle West, assisted by Rathkeale Gardaí and veterinary services from Limerick, executed a search warrant at a property in Rathkeale.
“During the course of the search, Gardaí found a large number of dogs on the property," a garda spokesperson said.
"Upon checking the dogs, they had no dog licenses or proper identification papers. No arrests have been made but Gardaí are following a definite line of enquiry and expect to progress the investigation in the near future.” Owners are asked to contact Newcastle West Garda Station via email to Newcastle_West_DS@garda.ie.
Sergeant Ber Leetch, crime prevention officer, said owners can take steps to ensure their dog's safety.
"For your dog’s security, I would recommend they are microchipped so that they can be easily identified if found and returned to the owner.”
“An Garda Síochána is aware of significant social media activity in respect of the theft and loss of dogs in recent times, including on our own social media channels. An Garda Síochána has not recorded a spike in recorded activity on the theft of dogs during the first half of 2020,” said a spokesperson.
People have also been taking to social media to share information on the use of “markers”, which reportedly indicate which homes have dogs to steal. This trend is causing panic among pet owners.
A spokesperson for An Garda Síochána confirmed they were aware of the posts.
“Gardaí are aware of posts showing markings and cable ties that have allegedly been left on gates and boundary walls of properties which identify houses where there is potential to steal dogs. Gardaí would encourage reporting all such incidents or suspicious activity to Gardaí rather than posting on social media.”