How to Prevent Your Dog from Being Stolen
The number of reported dog thefts in the UK continues to rise. 1,797 dogs were stolen in 2015 compared to less than half this number in 2014. The same trend is evident in Canada, Australia and the USA. Dogs are valuable commodities for criminals and they have no scruples about taking them from their owners.
Why More Theft?
The rise in thefts has been fuelled by the growing market for the dogs. Pedigree dogs are at risk of being taken because they can be sold on to unsuspecting new owners or used for breeding. Desirable breeds and dogs with unusual colours are particularly vulnerable. Small breeds like Chihuahuas are often taken, not just because they are desirable, but because their diminutive size makes them easy to snatch. Working dogs are also prized as are breeds which can be used for illegal dog fighting.
Crime and Punishment
In the UK, offenders are rarely severely punished and that just makes the situation worse. Dogs are still categorized as personal possessions under the law and so the criminals who are caught stealing dogs are punished in the same way as if they had stolen televisions or computers. Only 5% of arrests lead to convictions and sentences can be as little as community service. So how do you keep your dog safe?
Most thefts are opportunistic in nature so it is very unwise to leave your dog unattended when you are out and about. Don’t leave your dog tied up outside of a shop, even for a few minutes. Don’t leave them in your car as this will be easy to break into. If you absolutely have to leave the dog in the car, secure your pet in a lockable crate.
Homes and Gardens
Even your garden or your home could be invaded in order to steal your dog. Half of all dogs stolen are taken from inside homes. It is vital that your property is properly secured and that means that all of doors and windows must be locked. If your dog is in the garden, then even a high gate and fence may not be sufficient to keep thieves out so it is best not to leave your pet unattended when they are outside.
Walking your Dog
There has been a worrying trend for dogs being snatched from owners and dog walkers when they on their regular walks. You can reduce your risk of being targeted by changing your routes and you should ensure that your dog will respond to your calls so you can keep them in sight. If your dog’s recall is poor, then keep them on the lead in any areas where they may disappear from view. Keep your eyes peeled for suspicious behaviour and try to walk in groups because there is safety in numbers.
The availability of pet tracking devices is bound to improve and the devices will become more affordable. They are linked to an app on your smartphone and enable you to monitor your pet’s whereabouts. At the moment, these devices are quite bulky and conspicuous but technology marches on and it shouldn’t be too long before tracking devices will be an excellent option.
When the Worst Happens
If your pet is stolen, there are still things that you can do. Report the theft to the police and rescue centres and supply them with images. Notify your microchip company and flood social media with your story and pictures of your dog. It can also be worth contacting the local press. If there is enough publicity, your dog may become too hot for the thieves to handle. You should also register your pet with national lost and found sites. All of these measures will increase the chances of you being reunited with your pooch.