Having anything that is personal to you stolen can be incredibly distressing, let alone your furry family member. With dog thieves constantly evolving their methods in the digital age, we have put together this comprehensive guide to help you prevent dog theft on walks and indoors, how to protect your dog, and what to do if they get stolen.
Ways To Protect Your Dog From Theft
There are a number of preventative measures you can take to ensure that your dog is as safe as possible, such as:
Microchipping is required by law; making sure your details are updated is key in preserving their safety. Not only will a microchip help you identify and find them, but it will make them much more difficult to be re-sold. Un-microchipped dogs are easier to market than ‘unclaimed’ dogs; this is why puppies are such appealing targets.
You should also make sure your dog is wearing a collar with a tag on it. The tag should contain your surname and an up-to-date contact number.
Additionally, you should take pictures of your dog from a few different angles, and in different coat conditions. This is especially important if they have any unique markings or features. A photo of you and your dog can also be helpful in proving ownership.
Remain Vigilant When On Walks Or Out & About
When you are outdoors, there are a number of unknown factors that you are not in control of. That is why it is important that you are always aware of your surroundings.
Do Not Leave Them Unattended
Aside from leaving your dog unattended in the car and being dangerous in the heat, it makes them an easy target for thieves. Additionally, leaving your dog outside a shop, even for a minute, presents an easy opportunity for thieves.
Be Wary Of Overly-Curious Strangers
If someone you do not know is asking too many questions about your dog, be cautious with the information you share. This could be an example of a thief weighing up a prospective opportunity.
Only Leave Them With People You Trust
Before you leave your dog at a kennel or dog walking service, make sure to check references and company background carefully. You should only ever leave your dog with a recognised business like ours, or a trusted friend or family member.
Strengthen Your At-Home Security
While you are more in control of your surroundings at home, pets can be easily stolen from a garden when they are left unattended; theft can even happen within a few short minutes. Front gardens are especially vulnerable, due to their visibility from the street.
To protect your dog, you should fit a bell or gate alarm to any rear or side gates, and make sure any boundaries are secure. Additionally, you should make sure that the gates are secured with British Standard locks, closed shackle padlocks or locking bolts.
If your dog sleeps in a kennel, it is beneficial to fit a lock, as well as a bell or small alarm to alert you to any tampering.
When Leaving Them In Other People’s Care
When you leave your dog with someone else, make sure it is someone you trust. You should also make sure that they have strong at-home security; they should be aware of the risks of theft, things to avoid and what to do in the event of an attempt. Additionally, they should have up-to-date contact information for you in the event that something happens.
Keep Social Media Posting To A Minimum
As tempting as it is to make your adorable pooch an Instagram account, it is important to be wary of excessive social media posting. This is especially true if it is a luxury or rare breed that is in high demand. By posting them you could be unwittingly advertising their existence to a potential thief. Additionally, they may even be able to glean information about your home or regular movements with them, such as walk routes, from details shown in the photos.
Watch Your Puppies
As mentioned above, puppies are un-microchipped and generally fetch a higher price for potential dog thieves. While dogs of all ages are sought after, puppies are more likely to be in demand. They are also more likely to be trusting, making them vulnerable targets.
Much like the above, neutered pets are also less likely to be stolen. This is because they cannot be used for breeding purposes.
Recall & Training Skills
Staying up-to-date on your recall and training is vital in the public safety of your dog. In the event that they do wander into a potentially dangerous situation, you will be able to recall them. Establishing trust with your dog means that they are more likely to follow your commands. We offer a range of training services to suit your needs.
Enrol Them In Daycare
For peace of mind when you leave the house, you can always enrol your dog in daycare. This will help ensure that they get the care and attention they need, with expert supervision.
Avoid A Dog Walking Routine
Especially in areas where you have heard that dog thieving is taking place, you should avoid a dog walking routine. This is because thieves are likely to follow your route when they are planning to steal your dog. If you follow the same route every day at the same time, they will be able to pinpoint potential spots where you or your dog are vulnerable.
Do Not Walk Alone
If you are worried about theft along your route, then it is advisable not to walk alone. You should also avoid walking at night, or in areas where you would be particularly vulnerable.
What To Do If Your Dog Is Stolen
Firstly, you should contact the police and report them as stolen. It is vital that you provide as many details of the incident, the dog, and the offender as you can. You should also make a note of the crime reference number to refer back to.
Additionally, make sure to contact your local council. This is because they may have relevant services that look for, or regularly come across, stray dogs.
You should also get in touch with the microchip database to report your dog’s theft. This will help you be reunited in the event that they are found and scanned.
Also, it may be beneficial to advertise the loss of your dog in places such as vets, animal rescue centres, park notice boards and websites for missing animals. You should also include the crime reference number in the event that any details require passing onto the police.
How Do I Stop my Dog From Being Stolen? [h3]
There are a number of ways you can stop your dog from getting stolen, including:
- Strong recall training
- Keeping them close when out and about
- Increasing your at-home security measures, such as gate locks and alarms
- Leaving them with trustworthy businesses, friends, and family members
- Neutering and microchipping them
What is the Main Reason for Dog Theft?
Generally, dogs from breeds that are in higher demand are more likely to be targeted. This is because they will be the most profitable when it comes to breeding or selling them.
What to Do if Someone Tries to Steal Your Dog on a Walk? [h3]
In the event that a thief is trying to steal your dog, you should remain as calm as possible and hold your dog’s lead as tightly as possible to keep control. If the situation escalates, make sure to signal to those around you for help. This is likely to put off the prospective thief due to witnesses and potential other bodies getting involved. You should also call the police once you are able to do so; even if they are not successful, it is important to report the attempt.
Similarly, you should take photos or videos to document the situation and the person involved.
Your safety is the highest priority, and it is important to avoid physical confrontation if possible.
How Do Dog Thieves Mark Houses?
Generally, thieves mark prospective opportunities using chalk, paint or colourful items outside your house. If you see a new mark in front of your house, and you have a dog, it is best to contact the police to be on the safe side.
What is the Most Commonly Stolen Dog?
The most commonly stolen dog breeds in the UK from 2017-2021 are:
- Staffordshire Bull Terriers (287 thefts; 25.7% of total thefts)
- Chihuahuas (134 thefts; 12% of total thefts)
- French Bulldogs (110 thefts; 12% of total thefts)
- German Shepherd (91 thefts; 8.1% of total thefts)
- American Bulldog (71 thefts; 6.4% of total thefts)
- Jack Russell Terrier (70 thefts; 6.3% of total thefts)
- Husky (54 thefts; 4.8% of total thefts)
- Spaniel (52 thefts; 4.7% of total thefts)
- Pug (50 thefts; 4.5% of total thefts)
- Pomeranian (50 thefts; 4.5% of total thefts)
What Laws Punish Offenders & Protect Animals From Theft in the UK?
Dog theft is illegal under the Theft Act of 1968. However, under current legislation, a pet is treated as a possession. Therefore, punishment is generally based on the monetary value of the animal, rather than the distress caused to the pet or owner. The maximum sentence is seven years in prison. However, if someone causes suffering to the animal in the act of stealing it, they are liable to prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Where are Dogs Most Commonly Stolen From?
According to police data obtained by ADT, pets are most commonly stolen in the following areas in the UK, from 2017-2021:
- Devon & Cornwall (140.6 pet thefts per 100,000) people
- Northumbria (61.5 pet thefts per 100,000 people, with dogs being the most common at 437)
- Lancashire (52.9 pet thefts per 100,000 people, with dogs being the most common at 117 a year)