How to keep your dog safe from pet theft
The fear of having your beloved pet stolen is enough to keep owners up at night. Unfortunately, dog thefts are at an all-time high in the UK. That is why Oakpark, a home security specialist, has written this handy guide on dog theft to coincide with Pet Theft Awareness Day, on the 14th of February with the aim of raising awareness of the dangers and offer some tips on how you can keep your dog safe.
Why are thieves stealing dogs?
Similar to many other crimes, the motivation behind dog theft is monetary gain. A high value is now attached to some “designer breeds”, making them tempting targets for opportunistic thieves. However, criminals can make money from any breed of dog in a number of ways. Such as:
- Selling stolen dogs – A quick way for dog thieves to make cash is to sell stolen dogs to buyers who aren’t asking to many questions about their new pet’s history. Always buy pets responsibly or, better yet, rehome a rescue animal.
- Breeding puppies – Some dog thieves are targeting dogs with the aim of taking them to puppy farms and breeding them. Designer dog breeds are more at risk of this. The conditions in puppy farms and poor and overcrowded.
- Claiming rewards – Another way for pet thieves to make money from stolen dogs is to wait for the owner to offer a reward for the return of their lost pet and then pretending to have found it and claim the reward.
How to keep your dog safe from theft
Now that you know why dog thieves are targeting your pet here are some ways you can help to prevent dog theft and keep your dog safe.
- Make sure your dog is microchipped – It is a legal requirement that all dogs in the UK over 8 weeks old are microchipped. This helps the authorities return any lost or stolen dogs to their owners. Make sure that you update your contact details if you move.
- Give your dog a collar – It is another legal requirement in the UK that all dogs in public places wear a collar. Ensure that you include your contact details on the collar so members of the public can contact you if they find your dog. Avoid putting your dog’s name on the tag though as thieves can use this to call them.
- Don’t leave your dog unattended – Many dog thieves are opportunistic and will strike when you dogs are left unattended. Don’t leave your dog alone in the car or tied up outside shops. This leaves them very vulnerable to thieves.
- Be careful on walks – it can be difficult to keep an eye on your dog during walks or at the park and thieves might try and take advantage of the confusion to steal your pet. Also, be cautious of anyone who takes an extra interest in you or your dog as they may be gathering information to target you.
- Get your dog neutered or spayed – As we mentioned previously, some thieves are stealing dogs to breed them at puppy farms. Having your dog spayed or neutered stops this from being a risk, especially if you include it on their dog tag.
- Make sure your garden is secure – Many dog owners believe their garden is completely safe but the Pet Census has estimated that up to 52% of stolen dogs are taken from gardens. Keep an eye on your dog when he is in the garden and make sure the gate is secure.
What to do if your dog is lost or stolen
If your dog is missing or you suspect that it has been stolen it is important that you act quickly. Here are some things you can do to raise awareness of your missing dog and help find them.
- Retrace your steps and search – If you lose track of your dog during a walk or at the park then the first thing you should do is retrace your steps to see if you can spot where they went. Search any obvious hiding spots in the area as well.
- Use social media and put up posters – Social media is a great way to raise awareness and get the word out about your missing pet. Putting up posters in your local area with a recent picture of your dog and your contact details also increases the chances of someone spotting your dog.
- Register your pet as missing – There are a number of online websites where you can register your pet as missing, such as Animal Search UK. This makes it easier for a member of the public to find your pet.
- Contact your microchip database – Register your dog as missing with your microchip database and update your contact details to help authorities return it to you if it is found. Also, the microchip database can alert you if someone tries to re-register the chip number.
- Report it to the police – Dog theft is a crime and if you suspect someone has stolen your dog then you should report it to the police. Give them as much information as you can, such as a physical description of your dog, any details of the theft and its microchip number. This will help them find your pet.
- Contact local vets and shelters – If your dog is lost or stolen then contact and report it to all of the vets and rescue shelters in the surrounding area. This way they can contact you if someone finds your dog and brings it in.