Wiltshire Police has just launched a new precaution for dog owners to keep their four-legged friends safe.

The issue of dog theft has been widely talked about for some time now, so this initiative may be able to put owners’ minds at ease.

More high-tech than the standard name-on-tag norm, the new initiative; 'DNA Protected' would mean the DNA of the dog would be recorded on a central register.

It has been described as an ‘infallible way of having your pet’s ownership recorded’ by Wiltshire Police and is more reliable than a microchip which can be wiped of data by criminals.

People can get hold of the kits on DNA Protected's website for £74.99.

Wiltshire and Swindon Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson have just joined Police officers, police dogs and representatives of Cellmark Forensic Services to demonstrate how to take a DNA swab sample at the launch of the scheme to help combat the problem of dog theft.

Inspector Gill Hughes, who has been instrumental in progressing this initiative said: “Nationally, there have been much higher levels of dog thefts over the past 18 months, especially as prices for puppies climbed due to soaring demand during the periods of lockdown.

“Fortunately, Wiltshire and Swindon have not experienced the high levels of dog theft like some counties, but we are ever-mindful of the distress that is caused by the loss of a beloved pet wherever it happens.”

There have been 11 reports of cases involving dog thefts in the area. To keep levels of crime down, officers are pushing the initiative as a preventative measure.

Ms Hughes added: “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.

Wiltshire and Swindon Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson said: “Whilst we haven’t seen the same level of dog theft in Wiltshire that has been seen in places like South Wales, that doesn’t mean we should be complacent when it comes to protecting our pets and working dogs.

“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.

“This is why we’re following the lead of our colleagues in Gloucestershire by putting our police dogs on the DNA register, making us the second force in the world to do so."

Cellmark Forensic Services came up with the idea. They have provided specialist forensic DNA services to the police for over 30 years.

"We are delighted to be working with Wiltshire Police to help prevent and combat dog theft," said David Hartshorne, managing director of Cellmark Forensic Services.

“The Forensic Dog DNA Database gives dog owners access to powerful DNA technology so that if the worst were to happen, it could be used to help the police identify and return a lost or stolen dog to its owner.”