Dog theft is on the rise in many areas across the UK. Try not to fall into the trap of believing it will never happen to you - it can. The BBC website recently reported a nation-wide 250% increase in dog theft during the pandemic. Thieves can steal dogs for different purposes, including reselling, dog breeding, and dogfighting rings.
You can take steps to protect your dog from theft and improve the chances of finding them if they are lost. Read on to discover some handy dog theft prevention tips.
Try not to leave your dog alone tied up outside a shop. A short visit is all it takes for a thief to pretend to be their owner, untying your dog and then leaving without anyone raising any concerns. Leaving your dog alone in a car can give thieves an easy target. It can also be extremely dangerous and could cause your dog to overheat in hot weather. Always take them with you.
your garden for any areas where your dog could escape or where thieves
could gain access. If you have a gate, make sure you lock it from the
inside. Security lights and gravel are other ways to deter a dog thief
as both will draw attention if they are disturbed.
If your dog has a microchip, it will
enable quick and easy identification. It is important to note that
microchipping is now a legal requirement for all dog owners. You must
also keep your contact details up to date if you move home or change
your phone number. Neutering your dog can make a dog less desirable for breeding.
In public spaces, dogs need to wear a collar or dog tag that contains the name and address of the owner engraved on it. If your dog goes missing, this will enable them to get found quicker. Including your mobile number is another step to take so they can get found more easily. We advise never to include your dog's name because this could give dog thieves a chance to form a bond between themselves and your dog.
Vary your routine and walking route as much as possible. Purchase a chain lead instead of a leather or fabric one because this will make it harder for dog thieves to cut through. Using a carabineer clip to attach the lead to the collar or harness could prevent a dog thief from quickly unclipping the lead.
Carrying a defence spray could be beneficial if a dog thief were to attack you and you needed to defend yourself. A panic alarm can make a dog thief less likely to attack as the noise will draw attention to themselves. Body cameras are a helpful visual deterrent and can be invaluable to a police investigation.
cable ties wrapped around lamp posts and fences near your home could be
a sign that a dog thief is planning to steal dogs. If you notice any of
these ties, our advice is to stay vigilant and report suspicious
activity to your local police station.
If you don't already, take regular photos of your dog from all angles, paying particular attention to any distinguishing features. These pictures will come in useful if you ever need to share them so people can help look for your pet. Be wary of posting cute pictures of your dog online using social media sites where your home location is available for others to see. Thieves can get access to this information through your privacy settings.
Firstly, check your dog is not with any family or friends. Secondly, check if your dog is at your local council, then lastly, contact your local police station if you think your dog has been stolen.
Please have the following information ready to give to the authorities: description of your dog, the dates and times of the last sighting of your dog, how your dog went missing, contact names and numbers of anyone who has access to your dog, and descriptions of any suspicious-looking vehicles or people.
To help your dog being found quicker, you could design posters and display them in local areas. Ensure to use a clear picture and make sure your contact details are visible. Social media sites and missing pet websites are other good ways to raise awareness and get people to spread the word about your lost dog.
For further reading on how to protect against dog theft, see the RSPCA website.