Published: 12:18, 29 March 2021
| Updated: 12:44, 29 March 2021
Lockdown pet demand has seen the price of dogs sky-rocket by thousands and the increase could also be the cause of what's driving up many dog thefts across the area, according to one insurance company.
Pet experts from Go Compare say they worry the increase in price is driving many of dog thefts seen across Kent as pets are taken and resold for profit.
In 2019, 371 puppies were listed as getting quotes to be insured with Go Compare in Kent, but that figure almost doubled to 722 in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Golden retrievers have seen the most staggering rise in price, costing £450 on average a year before lockdown but are now fetching pries of up to £2,500 during lockdown - a rise of 456%.
Brazilian dogo's are now the most expensive, costing £2,750 during lockdown, up by 450%, typically they were prices at £500 before.
But these price rises do not necessarily corelate with how popular a breed was during lockdown.
French bulldog's were the most popular lockdown buddy in the county with 54 purchased in Kent and 9,324 across the UK last year. Their average price only went up by 59% from £1,240 to £1,977.
This was closely followed by 41 (7,255 UK wide) more Labrador retrievers and 29 (5,269 UK wide) more cocker spaniels being welcomed to families across Kent.
However, the insurance company warns these high prices are likely the driving force behind the recent spike in dog thefts.
Sally Jaques, Pet expert at Gocompare said: "Many people who have always dreamed of owning a dog took the plunge while they were spending so much time at home during lockdown which is why the price of dogs has risen so sharply. Owning a dog is now a big investment.
"But, worryingly, that rise seems to have coincided with an increased number of dogs going missing, presumed stolen, so it’s absolutely crucial that pet owners make sure they know what they are covered for on their pet insurance policy, should the worst happen."
Six bulldogs - the nation's current favourite - were returned home after being stolen from Staplehurst and another French bulldog was stolen from a Rainham garden in January.
Two weeks ago, six cockapoo pups were stolen from a property in Laddingford, near Tonbridge.
The value of these puppies has risen by 143% from £605 to £1,473 over the last year, according to Go Compare's data.
And one stolen pug was returned to its family in Lydd earlier this month. Pugs were the 11th most popular breeds to be brought home in the UK as 1,548 were bought last year.
Ms Jaques added: "We know that owning a pet isn’t all about the money, but pet insurance policies can help you offer a reward to find your lost or stolen pet as well as advertise for its safe return."
To protect your pets from theft, make sure not to leave them alone in gardens, outside of shops or in cars where thieves could make off with them.
You can also prepare for the worst by keeping microchip details updated, taking clear pictures of your pet in case they go missing and make sure only your address and phone number is on your pet's collar tag.