A FAMILY fear their three-year-old spaniel Anna is the latest victim in a growing number of dog thefts in Herefordshire.

Anna went missing when being walked on private land near the family home at Marden.

Despite hours of searching the 'heartbroken' family failed to find her and now fear she was stolen or is the victim of 'theft by finding.'

Those fears are increased by new figures which show a dramatic rise in dog theft reports to the police.

Investigations by DogLost UK show a 37% rise in dog theft cases being handled by West Mercia Police in the last 12 months.

Anna is a golden cocker spaniel and small for her age, so may have been mistaken for a puppy.

Anna’s owner said: “We have searched tirelessly , covering miles of grounds, but there has been no sign or sightings of her so we’re worried that she may have been found and kept.

"If you know anyone who has recently acquired a dog matching Anna’s description and believe it could suspicious then please let us know.

“Anna loves people and cuddles and loves to stroke people even more than being stroked herself.

"Our family is heartbroken, everyone loves Anna and we just want her home. our other dog, Poppy, is missing her greatly. We desperately need her home, she is a part of our family. If you have her, please take her to a nearby vets and say you found her.”

Missing posters are up in shops, pubs, post offices and businesses as well as in parks and popular dog walking areas. All vets and rescue centres within a 30-mile radius have also been informed.

A spokesperson for DogLost UK said: “It may also be possible due to her breed that Anna got stuck in a large rabbit hole or badger sett so we’re asking local dog walkers to please keep their eyes and ears open.”

If you have any information call DogLost on 0844 800 3220 quoting dog ID 141223 or visit https://doglost.co.uk/dog-blog.php?dogId=141223.

Any dog found straying must legally be reported to a local dog warden or the police. Failing to do so is classed as theft by finding.

Her owner added: “We’re so grateful for all the help and support we have had so far from family, friends and even strangers. Anna is a hugely loved family pet and our other dog, Poppy, is missing her greatly. We desperately need her home, she is a part of our family.”