Dog theft from gardens and prevention tips.
Dog owners who have a garden are some of the luckiest out there: your dog has a natural environment where they can play and run, you can let them out at any time of day, and they’re getting lots of physical exercises!
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an unfortunate side effect: since people want to get a puppy to make quarantine more bearable, thieves are taking advantage and stealing dogs from their homes to sell them at high prices. The police are urging dog owners to take extra precautions, especially when their pets are out in the garden.
That’s because, according to the Pet Theft Census, most dog theft cases in the UK (52%) occur in the owner’s garden.
Should I stop my dog from playing in the garden?
No, not at all! Forcing your dog to suddenly spend all day indoors and depriving them of playtime in nature can be bad for their physical and mental health, not to mention that they can become destructive when bored. However, you do need to take a few measures to turn the garden into a safe space. Here are the most important ones:
Lock the gates
Even if you live in a safe neighbourhood and haven’t had any issues with leaving the gates open, it’s best if you keep them under lock and key. Unlocked garden doors are an invitation for thieves to come in. In general, they look for the easiest target, so they quit and move on to the next one when they see that the garden door is locked. For added safety, fit a bell or gate alarm so you can hear anyone trying to come in.
Check for holes in gates and fences where dogs can be pulled through.
When the gates are closed, thieves can still get your dog by pulling them through a hole in or under the fence. This is especially the case for small, friendly dogs, which are also the most stolen ones. Even without the danger of dog thefts, it’s still a good idea to cover any holes because dogs can get curious, run away from there, and get lost. Placing large rocks at the bottom of the fence is a safe and inexpensive way to discourage them from digging holes.
Install a surveillance system
If you have the budget and want the highest level of safety for your dog, a surveillance system is a great investment. When you set it up, make sure the camera is in a visible spot (thieves are immediately discouraged when they see surveillance cams) and that it doesn’t have dead angles.
Never leave your dog unattended in the garden.
Even if your dog is well-behaved and doesn’t try to run away or dig out the flower bed, don’t leave things to chance and supervise them while they’re out in the garden. It only takes 45 seconds for a thief to steal your dog and finding them can be difficult.
Dog theft prevention tips from outside shops.
Many dog owners combine dog walking with grocery runs: if you’re out with your puppy for the evening walk, why not pop into the store to grab some bread while you’re at it? But while this might be convenient and time-saving, it’s highly unsafe for your dog. Dog theft cases have been on the rise lately, and thieves have been taking advantage of this innocent habit.
It only takes an experienced thief 45 seconds to steal a dog, so here’s how you can prevent your four-legged friend from becoming a sitting target.
Don’t leave your dog unattended in the car.
If you’re driving with your dog, don’t leave them inside the car while you run errands. This is good advice in general because dogs can suffer heatstroke and even die if left unattended in a closed space for a long time, but even more so these days, when thieves are using every opportunity they can to steal dogs. Thieves don’t see your dog as a soul; they see them as an expensive object. So, for them, a dog left unattended inside the car is the same as a laptop, phone, or jewellery item.
Don’t leave them tied up outside a shop./
Even if you live in a safe neighbourhood, don’t leave your dog tied up outside while you go inside the shop to buy something. You can’t supervise them from inside the shop, and thieves only need a few seconds to untie them. So, unless the shop has a pet-friendly policy and they let you in with the dog, it’s best to take the dog home first and come back later for groceries.
Yes, it will take longer, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Refuse help from strangers/
What happens if someone offers to look after your dog while you’re shopping? Well, unless you know them well and you’re certain they’re trustworthy, don’t accept. It doesn’t matter if they look friendly or they tell you that they have the exact same dog breed at home.
Find out which local stores are dog friendly.
Having a list of all nearby pet-friendly stores comes in handy. If you ever need to buy something while you’re walking your dog, you already know how to plan your route, and you can go shopping without worrying about someone wanting to take advantage of your absence. Keep in mind, however, that most stores only allow dogs if they’re secured with a lead and muzzle, so always carry those with you.
Make sure you share these safety tips with everyone in the family. If children or elderly relatives walk the dog too, it’s best to be on the same page and warn them of the potential dangers of leaving your puppy unattended in front of the store.
Last but not least, don’t forget about the general rules of safe dog walking: microchip your dog so they can be easily identified when found, write your name and address on the dog’s collar, and be wary of strangers who get too friendly around your dog.
If you have no option but to take the dog shopping then consider taking another member of the family with you
Dog theft whilst out walking – protecting yourself and your dog
Cases of dog theft have unfortunately gone through the roof in the UK during the lockdown. Stuck at home in self-isolation, people want the company of dogs, which is why requests for adoption have never been higher. But there’s a darker side to this story: thieves were quick to capitalise on this need and started to steal the dogs from unsuspecting owners to later sell them to anyone who offered a high price. It’s a sad reality and although there are high sanctions for those who commit crimes against pets, the wisest thing you can do these days is to protect yourself and your pet to avoid getting into this situation.
Microchip your dog/
If you haven’t already, microchip your dog. First of all, it’s compulsory: if you don’t microchip your dog by the time he or she is eight weeks old, you risk a fine of up to £500. And secondly, it’s for their own safety. In the unfortunate event that someone does steal your puppy whilst out walking, at least you have a way of identifying them. Keep in mind, however, that microchip can be removed and also doesn’t offer real-time location tracking; for that, you need to invest in a GPS pet tracker.
Don’t forget to include your phone number and address on the dog’s tag, in case someone reads it, but leave out the dog’s name. If the thief approaches the dog with kindness and says their name, the dog is more likely to be obedient and not make any noise.
Don’t take the same routes when dog walking.
Taking the same route every day is comfortable both for dogs and their owners, but it’s not really safe. Most cases of dog theft are planned: the thief sees a person walking their dog every day, on the same route, at the same hour, so they know when to hit. Add a little variety to your walks and alternate the routes from time to time. Whenever possible, walk the dog with a friend or family member.
Don’t let strangers ask too many questions.
Most of us love it when a passer-by stops to pet our dog while walking, but these days, it’s not safe to assume that everyone has good intentions. I If they start asking too many questions, such as the dog’s name, age, pedigree, or how long you’ve had them, it’s best not to answer and be on your way. Better yet, politely decline when they ask to pet your dog. This could give them a window of opportunity to run with the puppy.
In conclusion, you can’t be too careful when it comes to preventing dog theft. However, we hope our Dog Theft Prevention Tips will help.
Pets are a very highly prized commodity among thieves because they are difficult to track. They can fetch quite a bit of money when they’re being sold to dogfighting rings or breeding farms. Never assume that just because your dog is outside in broad daylight, it is safe. Trust me when I say, it only takes a second, and you’ll regret it for the rest of your life if they’re taken.
It is important to remember that Finchley Dog Walker do not use cars and arrive in plain clothes. During winter months we can also draw curtains and turn lights on to make sure the place looks occupied and help with security.
If your dog does get lost or stolen then our article on what to do if you lose your dog may be of help