The year 2020 is one we would all like to forget, but for some dog owners, it has been a nightmare. Since March 2020, the charity Dog Lost reported that dog thefts have increased by a staggering 250% and the biggest cause was the increase in demand for dogs during the lockdown.
While pedigree dogs are always the biggest targets for dog theft, so-called ‘designer dogs’ have seen a sharp rise in thefts due to their popularity. Happily, there are lots of precautions you can take to prevent your dog from being stolen.
Are Some Breeds More Likely To Be Stolen?
While it is true that pedigree dogs are often the most common to be stolen, any dog could be a target for potential criminals. Often, it is simply a case of the dog being easy to access rather than being a certain breed.
French Bulldogs and Pugs have become increasingly popular and are stolen to either sell on or to breed from. Labradors, Springer Spaniels, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers are also at higher risk. Similarly, the trend for ‘designer dogs’ increases the risk of theft. This includes mix-breeds such as:
So what can you do to keep your dog safe?
10 Tips For Preventing Dog Theft
- Never leave your dog unattended. 20 years ago, it was commonplace for dog owners to tie their dogs up outside shops without a worry for safety, but these days, an unattended dog can be stolen in seconds.
- If your dog cannot be left alone at home, ask a relative, friend, or neighbour to watch your dog while you run errands.
- Don’t leave your dog in the car. You may think that your dog will be safe in a locked car for a few minutes, but a thief can easily smash a window to gain access.
- Get your dog microchipped. It has been the law in the UK since 2016 that all dogs be microchipped before the age of 8 weeks. Remember to update your contact details with the chip company if you change your telephone number or move to a new house.
- Your dog should wear a collar and ID tag. In the UK it is a legal requirement that a dog must have an ID tag on their collar when in public. The tag must display your surname, street address, and postcode. It is also recommended that you include your phone number so you can be contacted quickly.
- Some dog owners also choose to include that their dog is microchipped or takes regular medication. “I Am Microchipped” or “On Medication” takes up little room and can be added to the other side of the tag.
- Consider home CCTV. It is becoming increasingly popular for homeowners to purchase security cameras to prevent criminal activity and to use as evidence if it is ever needed. Display a CCTV poster on your gate post is a good deterrent for potential dog thieves.
- Add a bell to your garden gate. Would-be thieves don’t want to be disturbed, so fixing a bell to your gate may put them off. It will also alert you that there is someone approaching the house.
- Take lots of photos of your dog. This is added security should you need to show proof of ownership. Take selfies with you and your dog and also profile photos of your dog from various angles on a regular basis, especially if you have a puppy, as their appearance changes quickly as they grow.
- Change your walk routine and be wary of unwanted attention. Many dog thieves will watchdog walkers to get an idea of their routine. To prevent this, walk your dog at different times each day and don’t use the same route.
- It is normal for people to ask what breed your dog is or how old they are, but if someone stops you in the street and asks you lots of questions, walk away. Also, be mindful of anyone who appears to be watching you or taking photos. Report any suspicious behaviour to the police.
- Never leave your dog in the garden unsupervised. Around 23% of dogs are stolen from gardens. Keep your garden secure and watch your dog or go out with them.
- Only leave your dog with someone you trust. If you have to travel or have someone watch your dog while you are at work, be sure to choose someone you trust such as a relative or close friend. If you are looking for a dog walker or boarding kennels, ask for references and look for reviews on social media so you know they are genuine and trustworthy.
What To Do If Your Dog Is Stolen
It is a great idea to have a plan should the worst happen. In the event that your dog is stolen, it is important that you act quickly to have the best chance of them being found.
If you are certain your dog has been stolen you should immediately call the police and request a crime reference number. If your dog is lost, call your local dog warden and those in neighbouring towns.
You should also contact the microchip company so they can monitor the chip number in case someone tries to update the details or re-register the chip number.
Your next step should be to post on social media platforms that your dog is missing with a recent photo and a description of the area they were last seen.
Call any local vets and give them your contact details in case someone brings your dog in for treatment.
Contact local dog rescues or kennels in case anyone has found your dog and has been unable to contact you.
Finally, print posters and put them up around your local area, post them through neighbour’s doors and go to local dog parks or areas popular with dog walkers and ask them to keep a lookout for your dog.
Losing your dog to theft is a traumatic event and there is plenty of help available. Many charities run pet bereavement services and there are lots of social media support groups of people who have experienced dog theft or loss.
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