Dog theft is on the increase in the UK with and estimated 3500 thefts reported in 2013, so we want to make dog owners aware of this worrying trend. The theft of a much loved pet and companion can be absolutely devastating to the whole family and it is not just something that happens to pedigree dogs. Any dog is a target for thieves if they think they can sell it on quickly, breed from it, use it for organised dog fights or even hold it for ransom. We also know that last year there was a huge rise in the theft of pet gun-dog breeds such as spaniels, pointers and retrievers.
The BBC recently reported on an investigation into dog theft by Dr Louise Grove, a criminologist at Loughborough University. Using data from the DogLost website, Doctor Grove found that 49% of dogs are stolen from their own gardens and 13% stolen from inside their homes! Other commonly reported locations being from parked vehicles, parks and outside shops. She also stated that that toy and small breeds are more likely to be stolen (47%) than larger breeds.
MPs and peers are urging the government to do more to tackle organised dog theft and the parliamentary group for animal welfare is planning to put its concerns to DEFRA early this year. Many charities are also petitioning the government to impose tougher punishments to people who steal pets (please click this link to sign the petition)
How to prevent dog theft
- Never leave your dog alone in the car
- Never leave your dog tied up outside while you pop into the shop or visit a friend.
- Make sure that your garden is secure and check this often
- Supervise your dog while he or she is outside and off the lead
Things you can do to prove ownership if your dog is stolen
- Microchip your dog. It won’t prevent theft, but it will prove that the dog belongs to you should there be any dispute of ownership or if your dog is found and taken to a rescue centre. The Tag stating your pet is microchipped may also act as a deterrent.
- Take lots of pictures of your dog from all angles and include any distinguishing markings or features and make sure you record the date on the photos if your camera is able to do this. Again this won’t prevent theft but it can aid identification and will be useful if you need to make posters.
What should you do if you believe your dog has been stolen
- Write down as many details as you can remember as soon as you can, about where and when your dog was taken and people that may have seen it happen.
- Talk to anyone who may have seen you dog get taken.
- Report the crime to the police and make sure you get a crime reference or incident number from them.
- Make posters of your dog and put them up in your local area and online
- Report your stolen dog to the local dog warden and veterinary surgeries
- Register your dog as missing/stolen on as many lost dog websites as you can find
- Contact rescue centres so they can get in touch if your dog is handed in.
- Talk to the local newspapers to see if they will cover your story
- Don’t give up – some dogs are returned after many months or years
Castle Vets is offering microchips for the low price of £9.50. Microchipping is free to our Pet Health Club members. If your dog is already microchipped you can pop into the surgery and we will scan your dog to ensure the microchip is working correctly, no appointment necessary.
Useful links to lost pet websites
- Alfie’s Lost Dogs
- Animal Finders
- Animal Search UK
- Dog Lost
- Dog Theft Action
- Dog Watch Alert
- Thames Valley Police
- The UK Missing Pets Register
Useful links for theft prevention
- Pawtrax – GPS tracking for dogs
- Microchips – Microchip your pet at Castle Vets
- Petloc – Secure lead and collar
Useful links to recent reports
BBC South Inside Out Report – Report on IPlayer