Pet theft is a very unfortunate reality that pet owners across the UK have to face. The Direct Line has estimated that more than five dog thefts were reported per day in 2018. The hope is with a greater understanding of the risks of pet theft, dog owners are in a much stronger position to protect their pets.
To coincide with Pet Theft Awareness Day on the 14th of February Oakpark, a home security specialist, is raising awareness of the risks of pet theft and offering some tips on how you can help to keep your beloved pet safe from thieves. After all, they are part of the family.
Why are dogs being stolen?
As with many other crimes, the main motivation behind dog and other pet theft is to make money. The high value that is attached to “designer dogs” make some breeds specifically sought after. However, dog thieves can make money from any kind of dog.
The three most common ways thieves can make money from stolen dogs are:
- Resale – Some buyers aren’t very diligent when it comes to checking the history of their future pets. This makes it exceptionally easy for dog thieves to quickly sell stolen dogs for a profit.
- Breeding – Designer breeds of dogs are more at risk of being stolen for breeding. But some thieves steal dogs to breed them in ‘puppy farms’ (or mills). They are often kept in poor and overcrowded conditions.
- Rewards – Some dog thieves patiently wait for the distraught owner to offer a reward for the return of their dog. The criminal then returns the “lost” dog and claims the reward.
How to keep your dog safe from theft
There are a number of ways for you to minimise the risk of your dog being stolen, including:
- Don’t leave your dog tied up – leaving your dog tied up unattended outside of shops makes them a very tempting target for opportunistic dog thieves.
- Put a collar on your dog – it is a legal requirement for your dog to wear a collar in public with an ID tag with all of your contact details. Avoid including the dog’s name, however, as this can be used by thieves to beckon them.
- Make sure your dog is microchipped – this is another legal requirement and helps authorities return lost or stolen dogs to their owners. Make sure all of your details are up to date.
- Be wary of strangers – compliments from strangers about your dog is nice, but be careful of anyone who asks too many questions or asks for personal information.
- Vary your walks – habits are often exploited by criminals. Help to stop thieves from targeting you by varying when and where you walk your dog.
- Don’t leave your dog alone in the car – leaving your dog in the car also presents a health and safety risk, but thieves won’t hesitate to break the window and steal your pet.
- Take plenty of photos of your dog – this helps if your dog ever goes missing as you will have plenty to use on posters and social media. Photos of you with your dog also helps to establish ownership if needed.
What to do if your dog is lost or stolen
If your dog has been stolen follow these steps:
- Report it to the police – dog theft is a crime. If you think your dog has been stolen you should report it to the police. Be sure to give them plenty of information such as a physical description of your dog and its microchip number.
- Register your pet as missing – you can register your dog as missing on your microchip database and dedicated websites such as Animal Search UK. This makes it easier for your dog to be returned to you if it is found.
- Put up posters and use social media – put up missing dog posters in your local area and share information on social media. This helps to raise awareness and increase the chances of your dog being found by a stranger.
- Retrace your steps and search hiding spots – if you lost your dog during a walk retrace your steps. You might spot where they might have headed. Similarly, search places like gardens in your local neighbourhood in case they are hiding.
About the author:
Dan Baker is a Content Writer that works with Oakpark Group, a company that specialises in supplying home security and fire safety solutions across the UK.