A heartbreaking gallery of 48 suspected stolen dogs has been issued by police in a desperate bid to reunite them with their owners.
The pets were among 83 recovered when dozens of officers raided a Travellers site in Ipswich, Suffolk last month.
Police have so far not been able to reunite any of the animals with their owners and are now appealing for help.
Suffolk Constabulary’s efforts appear to have been hampered as many of the animals do not identification microchips.
The dogs in the gallery include French bulldogs, dachshunds and whippets – and could have come from anywhere in Britain.
The force is now asking anyone who recognises their missing pet to make contact with proof of ownership by May 24.
A spokesperson said: “Over the past few weeks officers have been working hard to identify the owners of the 83 dogs.
“However, due to the lack of identifying features and information, the process has proved to be challenging.
“As yet, none of the animals have been reunited with their owners.
“Now the investigation team is asking potential owners, who have not contacted the constabulary previously to come forward.
“The public should also be aware that some of these dogs may have been lost, stolen or moved on over a period of time so they may not look exactly as they did when they were last seen.
“The remaining dogs that have not been advertised as part of the appeal are currently subject to ownership enquiries or are young puppies.
“All of the seized dogs remain part of the ongoing investigation. The care and welfare of the dogs remains a priority.”
DCI Nicola Wallace, who is leading the operation, said: “We are keen to hear from anyone who believes any of the dogs in the images may be theirs.
“During the last few weeks officers have been liaising with other police forces around the country, as well as conducting a number of other enquiries, in order to establish where the dogs may have originated from.”
Anyone who believes they can provide proof of ownership should email the investigation team by May 24 on email@example.com
They must provide a full name, contact details and the image number which relates to the dog or dogs they recognise.
Proof of ownership could be purchase details or receipts, veterinary or vaccination records or pictures of the dog, particularly images such as distinctive markings, scars or distinguishing features.
Officers are also asking for any details of microchipping and for reports of dogs being lost or stolen.
A 38-year-old man, now aged 39, two 34-year-old men and three women aged 46, 41 and 35 – who are all from Ipswich – were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to steal during the raid on the West Meadows site on March 20.
They were all taken to Martlesham Police Investigation Centre for questioning and were initially released on bail until April 16, pending further enquiries.
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One of the men aged 34, the 39-year-old man, the 41-year-old woman and the 46-year-old woman have since had their bail date extended to June 17.
The other 34-year-old man and the 35-year-old woman have been released and will face no further action.
DCI Eamonn Bridger, head of crime for Suffolk Police, described the seizure of the dogs at the time as “a highly successful and significant policing operation”.
“We recognise that these crimes have a significant impact on the families affected and we will continue to disrupt criminals wherever we have information that we can act upon,” he said.
“This type of crime has become a particular problem across the entire country since the first lockdown began 12-months ago, due to the value and demand for certain breeds.
“Our officers have worked tirelessly to develop intelligence and identify those who are believed to be responsible.
“I know many victims of these crimes will be anxious to know whether or not we have recovered their pet.
“I would like to reassure them that we are working as quickly as possible to identify who all the dogs belong to and aim to reunite them with their owners as soon as we can.”
The number of dog and puppy thefts across Britain has soared in the last year as unscrupulous gangs seek to cash in on the soaring demand for pets from families during the coronavirus crisis.