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    Rural dog theft experiences sought for research project

    Posted 2 February 2023

    A young man - Adam Rendall - next to a tractor with a dog.

    The impact of rural dog theft is being examined by a Harper Adams University Veterinary Bioscience student as his final year research project.

    Final year BSc (Hons) Veterinary Bioscience student Adam Rendall, from Grimsby in Lincolnshire, is working with wider a research team to find out how the crime is specifically affecting people who live in the countryside.

    Alongside a wider research team, made up of Harper Adams academics including Dr Kreseda Smith as well as Dr Daniel Allen from Keele University, Adam is both asking people who have been affected by the issue to fill in a short questionnaire and conducting more in-depth interviews with some participants about their experiences.

    The researchers want anyone whose dog was originally bread for working purposes to fill in their survey – though these animals do not have to have a current working role, and can simply be a family pet.

    The survey can be found online here.

    Adam explained: “We are looking to see how people are affected by the theft of their canines.

    “Dog theft is currently a class four crime - the same as shoplifting – but this does not take into account emotional damages and subsequent mental health issues.

    “Many consider a dog to be a member of their family, and have been recorded as going through a similar grieving processes as bereaved people. This is emotional damage - and is not represented within the sentencing of the criminals responsible.

    “I believe this is an issue that all pet owners think about - and the research with regard to rural related thefts is lacking in comparison to urban thefts.

    “Making an assessment of people’s vulnerability to crime is also key to understanding how criminals think, who is at risk of becoming a victim, and why.”

    Adam was first drawn to Harper Adams after finding the University online while at college – and knowing he wanted to work with animals, he started to look into the University’s Animals courses.

     He added: “Veterinary bioscience was the logical choice, with more of a 50:50 split between farm animals and companion animals than other universities.

    “I attended an open day, then a taster day, and was impressed by the rural location as I do not like cities.

    “I also thought the guides, lecturers, and general staff gave a positive experience, and overall there were smaller class sizes and more specialised staff.”

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