Pet theft is on the increase in the UK and we want to make pet 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 pet is a target for thieves if they think they can sell it on quickly, breed from it, hold it for ransom or, with dogs, use them in organised fights.
The Pet Theft Awareness website has statistics to show that 52% of dogs are stolen from their own gardens! With other commonly reported locations being from inside the house, from vehicles, while out on walks and when left outside shops. We also know that small pedigrees and ‘designer’ dog breeds are more likely to be stolen than larger breeds. Popular cat breeds to be taken are Siamese, Ragdolls and Persians.
MPs and peers are urging the government to do more to tackle organised dog theft and many charities are also petitioning the government to impose tougher punishments to people who steal pets. There is also the ‘vets get scanning‘ campaign which is urging vets to routinely scan any newly registered pets for microchips.
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 supervise your pet while outside.
- Supervise your dog while he or she is outside and off the lead
Microchip your pet. It won’t prevent theft, but it will prove that your pet belongs to you should there be any dispute of ownership or if your pet is found and taken to a rescue centre. Some microchip readers also alert the operator that the pet has been reported as missing or stolen when they are scanned. The Tag stating your pet is microchipped may also act as a deterrent. More Microchipping information can be found here.
Take lots of pictures of your pet 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 ever need to make posters.
What to do if your pet goes missing
- Make posters of your pet and put them up in your local area and online
- Report your missing pet to the local dog warden and veterinary surgeries
- Phone your pet’s microchip company (details will be on the paperwork) to report your pet as missing, this will automatically update any linked microchip readers and alert anyone that scans your pet.
- Register your pet on as many social media sites and pet lost sites as you can find (a few links are given at the end of the article)
- Contact rescue centres so they can get in touch if your pet is handed in.
- Don’t give up – some dogs are returned after many months or years
What should you do if you believe your pet has been stolen
- Write down as many details as you can remember as soon as you can, about where and when your pet was taken and people that may have seen it happen.
- Talk to anyone who may have seen your pet get taken.
- Report the crime to the police and make sure you get a crime reference or incident number from them. You will need this if you make a claim on your pet insurance.
- 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
- Pets Located
- 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