A WARNING has been issued by the RSPCA after two men posed as charity workers in an attempt to get access to a dog.

Two men in a van approached a woman walking her dog in West Moors on January 27. They claimed to be from the RSPCA and asked to take her dog.

RSPCA chief inspector for Dorset and Wiltshire, Lewis Taylor, said: “We would like to remind and reassure the public that all of our officers wear branded uniforms and carry issued RSPCA identification.

“If an RSPCA officer is in contact with you, or visits your home and you are unsure of their credentials, then please ask to see their official ID and look for the RSPCA badge on their clothing.

"If you have taken these steps and are concerned someone isn’t who they say they are, you can always ring our national call centre on 0300 1234 999 for confirmation. If you believe someone is impersonating a member of our staff please report the incident to us and to your local police.”

There have been similar incidents in London and Yorkshire.

Lewis added: “We’re concerned that they may have been posing as RSPCA inspectors in order to snatch dogs, and that’s extremely worrying.

“We understand that there has been a surge in the number of pet thefts during the past year due to the value of many breeds and the demand for pets during lockdown.

“We’d urge people to take extra precautions to protect their pets from thieves by neutering them, ensuring they’re microchipped with up-to-date contact details registered and ensuring they wear a collar with an ID tag or embroidered contact details.

“We’d advise dog owners never to leave their pets tied up outside shops or alone in cars, to ensure their dog has a good recall and doesn’t stray too far when being walked off-lead, and ensure gardens are secure with locked gates.”

Police have been investigating incident but say no arrests have been made.

A Dorset Police spokesperson said: “We received a report at around 6.50pm on Wednesday 27 January of a suspicious incident that had occurred in the area of Abbey Road in West Moors.

“It was reported that at around 6pm that evening a woman was out walking her dog when she was approached by two men in a white Volkswagen van. One of the men told her that the dog had been reported as stolen and asked her to hand it over. The woman refused and the men drove off.

“Officers have been carrying out enquiries into this incident. No arrests have been made.”


Get more Forest news.

You can also like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date.

Email newsdesk@salisburyjournal.co.uk with your comments, pictures, letters and news stories.