A Gloucestershire vet has issued a warning to pet owners in the county that dog thieves are targeting expensive pedigree pets in the area.

Debo Ajao, clinical director at AAS Vets, which has practices in Abbeydale, Quedgeley, Stroud and Hucclecote, says criminals have been ‘marking’ homes across the county to highlight where valuable animals live.

An AAS employee raised the alarm after her own house was marked and the practice has now alerted Gloucestershire police to the problem.

Debo said: “It really is despicable that there are criminals out there who dedicate their time to finding out where precious pets live and then highlight those homes for a visit from dog thieves.

“They leave a subtle but distinctive mark on the outside of the property to signal there’s a valuable dog inside.

“It’s all the more shocking as it happened to one of our employees recently. She immediately called the police who confirmed the house had clearly been targeted.”

The AAS Vets’ boss is now advising local dog lovers to be alert to the threat, examine the outside of their homes and be extra careful caring for their pets.

He added: “We were keen to make people aware of what to look out for and that if a little mark suddenly appears outside your house and you have a pet dog, it may well be the work of thieves, so get in touch with the police immediately.

“Dog owners should be on their guard and take extra precautions at this time and make sure their pets are properly microchipped and that any microchips contain up to date contact details and phone numbers.”

A spokesperson for Gloucestershire Constabulary said: “AAS Vets have made us aware that there appears to be suspicious activity taking place across parts of the county and we are asking dog owners to be alert and vigilant.

“There are a number of ways that you can help protect your dogs, including ensuring it is never left on its own outside and making sure that it has been microchipped and the details are up to date.

“Anyone who wishes to report information related to animal crimes can do so by calling 101 or via https://www.gloucestershire.police.uk/tua/tell-us-about/soh/seen-or-heard/.”

AAS Veterinary Services, which is part of Linnaeus and has practices in Abbeydale, Quedgeley, Hucclecote and Stroud, offers annual pet health club memberships for dogs which covers treatments such as routine health checks, vaccinations and microchipping.

To find out more information, visit www.aasvets.co.uk or search for AAS Vets on social media.