The increase in the value of dogs and puppies, thanks to lockdown, seems to have driven an increase in dog thefts. In an already difficult and anxiety ridden time, people are now having to face the possibility that their beloved four-legged family member will be snatched. Social media has gone a little crazy with suspicious sightings and news of police raids on farms and attempted thefts.
Understandably, people are feeling on edge about the rise in dog thefts and want to do what they can to keep their dogs safe. Fortunately, there are some things that can be put into place both in the home and outside on walks to keep dogs as safe as possible from dog stealing. Firstly, we would say to contact your local police authority to ask what extra measures are being put in place to keep people and their dogs safe. They should be able to give you some advice on appropriate safety measures you can take.
Here are a few tips on keeping your dog’s safe from dog napping:
• Make sure your dog is microchipped and keep the details up to date
• Take photos of your dog and any distinguishing features, update these regularly
• Make sure your dog has an identification tag on its collar with your contact details on, but do not put your dog’s name on there
• Keep your dog in the house where possible. Do not kennel your dog or keep it away from the home
• Do not let your dog out unsupervised in the garden. Make sure your garden is secure. Perhaps install sensor lights to alert you of anyone approaching
• Do not advertise the fact that you own dogs. Avoid putting dog ownership placards up on your gates/in your windows
• Make sure your home and garden are secure. Look into a home security system or take a look at the many dog webcams that you can install
• Be mindful of what you are posting on social media. Check your privacy settings so that strangers can’t access your pictures.
• Try to walk with another person, always adhering to your local lockdown restrictions
• Carry a personal safety alarm with you
• Make sure your dog has a good, reliable recall. If not then keep them on the lead
• Any suspicious activity, report it to the police! If you are approached and an attempt is made to take your dog then call 999. Otherwise, report it as soon as it is safe to do so
• Vary your walks – don’t stick to the same route
• Don’t leave your dog tied up outside shops
• Do not leave your dog in the car unattended
• If you are a dog breeder, be careful about where you advertise puppies and who you let into your home to meet the puppies
If the worst happens and your dog is stolen it is important to act quickly. Here are some of the steps you can take:
• Report the theft to the police immediately. Ask for a crime reference number
• Report the incident to your local dog warden and to the surrounding local authorities
• Report the theft to your microchip database
• Report the loss on as many of the missing animals websites as possible – there is no single national missing animals database, so you will have to place the same information on all of them to ensure a widespread appeal
• Speak to local dog rescues and give them photos of your dog just in case someone tries to surrender your dog to them
• Make sure local vets are aware
• Make posters and put them up in the local area and any areas popular with dog walkers. The poster should have clear details of the incident. If your dog is insured then your policy may help with the costs towards this
• If you want to explore your legal options, the Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to assist
• Approach your local media who could help publicise your missing dog. This may also be a good way to raise awareness about the issue and prevent further dogs being stolen.
As dog owners, we are all in this together and there is support out there if we need it. Stay safe all, whether you have two legs or four!