AN attempted dog-napping saw a random couple attempt to steal a beloved pet in Essex.

Essex Police have launched an investigation after a man and a woman approached a dog walker and attempted to steal the animal in Victoria Avenue, Rayleigh.

According to reports, the pair asked to stroke the dog before attempting to try and take the dog’s lead off.

Thankfully, the dog walker managed to grab her pet and flee unharmed, however police are urging anyone with information to come forward as soon as possible.

James Newport, councillor responsible for the Downhall and Rawreth ward, said: “All dogs are part of our families, so this is very concerning to hear.

“It is a very popular route for people going up to Sweyne Park. So, I urge all dog owners to be vigilant about who is around them whilst taking dog for a walk.

“I am sure the police are doing their utmost to find the culprits.”

Anna Firth, MP for Southend West, has introduced a Pet Abduction Bill which is currently going through the stages to be passed as a bill.

If passed, the bill aims to have a law introduced which will see pets classified as “more than just items of property, and instead as sentient beings”.

Ms Firth said: “I am very concerned to hear about this attempted dog theft and have been equally concerned to see other reports of similar theft attempts locally in recent months.

“While I am pleased that the owner managed to grab her dog and get away unharmed, this attempted theft was still despicable crime and I sincerely hope that the perpetrators are caught swiftly.

“What this incident underlines is the importance of my Pet Abduction Bill and the need to see it complete its passage through the House of Lords as swiftly as possible.

“Only by truly understanding the extent of this problem can we properly tackle it and bring these criminals to justice. That is exactly what my bill will do.”