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.
Here are some safety precautions you should take to prevent theft while dog walking:
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. 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. Pets are a very highly prized commodity among thieves because they are difficult to track, and 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.