Dog theft is now every dog owner’s worst nightmare, yet these crimes are on the rise in the UK.
Why are dogs stolen?
There are two main types of dog theft – the target of pedigree dogs for breeding purposes or for profit. Some pedigree dogs can be worth thousands of pounds and can be held hostage for a high ransom amount from their loving owners. Others dogs are illegally taken to puppy farms with the main target breeds being designer, working and toy dogs. The second and more sinister type of theft is targeted towards the cruel practice of dogs used as bait in fighting circles.
Look out for thieves
Organised gangs now operate professionally to steal and sell on cherished and expensive dogs. With only 5% of dog thefts leading to criminal prosecution and a low chance of being caught, these unscrupulous thieves can be quite bold, as they see it as a low-risk crime. Incidents have been reported of “dog muggings” with threats of weapon use unless you hand over your dog and others of thefts of dogs while out on dog walks. Your house may be placed under surveillance, or your property marked with chalk or paint to highlight that you own a dog. Gangs have been spotted loitering outside pet stores waiting for an opportune moment to enter the store and take puppies. Other dogs are stolen from parked cars, as owners often think it’s Ok to leave their pet in their car with the window partially open, which can easily be smashed or forced down, and the dog snatched in less than no time.
Steps to keep your dog safe
It’s a distressing thought, but as dog owners there are some precautions we can take to keep our pets secure.
- Ensure your garden is secure – think security lights, locked gates and high fences. Never leave your dog alone in the garden where he is out of sight at any time.
- Never leave your dog unattended – in the garden, in the street, or tied up outside a shop.
- Be very aware on dog walks – Keep your dog in sight at all times when off the lead. Make sure that your pet has a good recall, and if in doubt, use an extending lead. Invest in a light up dog collar for night time walks, so you can still spot your dog in the dark shrubbery.
- Ensure that your pet is microchipped with an ID tag attached to his collar. Don’t add your dog’s name to the tag, which makes it easier for a thief to obtain a response from your dog.
- Be conscious of strangers – anyone who approaches you and asks unusual questions or for information regarding your dog may have an ulterior motive, especially if they ask how much you paid, where you live or how friendly he is around strangers.
- Only use known professionals – if you expect to leave your dog with a dog walker, kennel, pet sitter or groomer, make sure you have met and vetted them personally and ask for references, before trusting your dog into their care.
- Change your routine – alternate your dog walk routes and timings so that your routine movements cannot be monitored.
- Don’t overshare your dog – we all love our pets but be conscious of who can see your social media posts and photographs of your dog and your whereabouts.
- Keep personal photographs of your dog – these will be an advantage if your dog does go missing and you can use them to report your loss and to relocate him using various online resources.
Let’s all work together to make it harder for dog thieves to operate. Stay diligent and be aware of how these devious thieves function and try to minimise the number of dog thefts in the UK.