The pandemic has seen many people finding comfort in a furry little friend, and while a dog is the perfect companion in difficult times, the high demand for puppies has led to a disturbing rise in dog theft. In fact the UK charity DogLost has reported a 170% increase in dog theft from 2019.
Losing a dog can be a devastating experience and many people will go to extreme lengths to avoid the pain. The BBC recently reported on a couple that offered a staggering £20,000 reward for the safe return of their dog, the sum total of their life savings.
To avoid ending up in a situation like this it is important to understand why people steal dogs, so that you don’t end up unwittingly supporting the crime, and we will make some simple suggestions so you hopefully will never end up losing your dog.
Why are dogs being stolen.
Having a dog stolen is a devastating experience and many owners will offer no questions asked rewards for the safe return of their dog, the dog thief can simply pretend to be the one who found your dog and collect the reward.
Sometimes dogs are stolen to fulfil a particular request, whether it is for a breeder or a private owner who can’t wait to get their hands on a specific breed of dog.
Demand for puppies has increased enormously during the lock down which has seen the average price of a pedigree dog increase from £500 to £2000! This combined with the fact that the lockdown is making other forms of crime harder, breeding puppies has become a lucrative alternative.
As we’ve noted demand for puppies has increased dramatically during lock down. Many dogs that are stolen are simply sold on through various sites such as Facebook, and Gumtree.
Perhaps the saddest reason is that sometimes dogs are stolen to act as ‘bait dogs’ to train fighting dogs.
How to stop it.
Don’t let your dog out of your sight!
It might sound obvious, but your dog is more vulnerable to being stolen if they move out of your line of sight. Be wary of letting your dog round bends, or into bushes, they are far more likely to be taken if the thief can’t see the dogs owner. 16% of dogs are stolen when out for an ordinary walk, so varying your route might also help protect your pooch.
Secure your garden
Taking care of holes in fences might prevent your dog escaping, but raising the height of your fence or hedge will deter thieves from gaining access to your garden and stealing your dog. AS many as 50% of dogs are taken from gardens, so if you only do one thing to protect your pet this should be it.
Don’t leave your dog outside of the shop
This leaves your dog very vulnerable to being stolen as once out of sight a potential opportunity is created, with 7% of dog thefts occurring in this way. Bystanders provide little protection, as they don’t know who the dog belongs to.
This might sound obvious but neutering your dog means that it won’t be stolen for breeding purposes. Taking away one of the reasons dogs are stolen will help protect your dog t=from theft.
A microchip that is registered with a pet database, and whose information is kept up to date will help your dog be returned to you as easily as possible, should the worst happen.
Make sure your dog walker is legitimate
When looking for a dog walker, reach out to friends and family and try and get recommendations. While a dog walker might not be out to steal your dog themselves, not all dog walkers and created equal, some might now be quite as careful with your pooch as you’d like.
Make sure your dog is well trained
A well-trained dog that will return when called and won’t stray too far, will give a potential thief far fewer opportunities to steal your dog, than an untrained or poorly trained dog. Make sure you sign your dog up for a good puppy school and get on top of their behaviour.
Look out for info on local dog walking groups
Joining a good walking group can be very useful for finding out about dog thefts in your area, as well as providing a network of people who can keep an eye out for your dog if it has been taken.
Be careful where you buy your dog from
Carefully selecting who you buy your dog from can help decrease the demand for stolen puppies. Research your seller, make sure they have a good reputation to reduce the likelihood of illegal activity. Or even better try and get your dog from a rescue centre, not only will you be a super-hero, rescuing an unwanted puppy, but you will also further reduce the demand for stolen dogs.
When your dog is alone, make sure he’s out of sight
19% of dogs are taken from breaking into homes and 5% are taken from cars. When you leave your dog at home try to make sure they are not visible from the street and try to avoid leaving them alone in the car altogether. Making simple changes like this can remove the chance for opportunistic thieves do steal your dog.
Statistics from: http://www.pettheft.org.uk/press.php