You will have seen in the news that the theft of dogs has risen sharply over lockdown. With the demands for new pets rising (along with the prices for them), thieves have turned this into an opportunity.
They are commonly either sold on or used for breeding. Some thieves can simply wait for a reward to be given, knowing owners will pay anything to get their pooch back. Some breeds can even be used for fighting, unfortunately.
Dogs are now more likely to be at home during the day as opposed to going into daycare, and people are walking them more too, according to government guidelines. This means that thieves are stealing them on walks, from back gardens and from responsible breeders, as well as all of the places which were once more common such as if they’re left in a car.
We recently reported that teams had been spotted pretending to be from the RSPCA and asking people to hand their dogs over as they matched the description of one which had been stolen and they needed to take it to be checked. Some have just grabbed dogs on walks and threatened the owners if they try to get them back.
So, what can be done to try and keep you and your dog safe? It may mean changing a few things, but if this means you both return home safe, it is worth it.
When At Home
Thieves are breaking into homes, not for the telly or car keys, but for dogs. The Pet Census revealed that up to 52% of dogs are taken from gardens.
This is especially prevalent if they’ve just had puppies, are a sought-after breed or are young and breedable. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are the most targetted breed, with so-called ‘designer’ breeds not far behind.
Think of protecting your home as you would normally against break-ins and burglaries. Always lock your door when you’re in and get very secure locks everywhere, too. Security cameras both inside and outside the home are also a great idea.
Gardens are the most popular theft hotspots, but homes can also be easy targets
Gardens are a prime hotspot for pet thefts. This way, they don’t even need to gain entry to your home. Unfortunately, many owners also let heir pet out into the garden to go to the toilet and don’t keep an eye on them in order to give them some privacy.
So, always keep an eye on your pet when they’re outside. Let them out at the back as opposed to the front if possible, and ensure you have high fences which are hard for humans to climb. Attach a loud bell to any gates which can be opened so you can hear if it is opened.
You may also want to restrict your dog to just one small area of the garden, such as nearest the house, so it is easier to watch them from your window if there are poor weather conditions.
Don’t advertise that you have a dog, either. You may find that sign on your gate saying “Beware of the Chihuahua” hilarious, but thieves will too. Even if your dog wouldn’t take too well to an intruder – this could be an appealing behaviour trait to someone who wants a dog to train for fighting.
If your dog is left alone, ensure they don’t bark and ‘make themselves known’. Also secure the house, and again the cameras will come in handy.
When On A Walk
We are now more likely to be going on long walks with our pooches rather than a few short walks around the block before and after work. Maybe they’re off the lead in a field now as opposed to on a busy road where there are people around.
What does this mean? Well, not only is the dog having the time of their life but there are more opportunities for dognapping too. Dogs which have been stolen can travel miles in a short space of time with the right amount of preparation, so being out in the countryside is perfect for going undetected. There will also likely be fewer people around to help, and possibly a poor phone signal.
Keep your dog close and be aware of strangers
We aren’t saying to never go somewhere like that. We are just saying to change up your walking routes a bit. Thieves can easily work out times, routes and escape plans around what you do. Also, go at different times.
If you have your dog off the lead and it ventures far, this is also something to keep an eye on. Anybody could grab it, even if you think they are only saying hello, so ensure they don’t go far and approach people. Also, make sure they’re great at recall.
Be wary of anyone asking questions about your dog, too. Age, breed, name and whether they’re neutered are suspicious questions. If you feel uncomfortable not answering, don’t give honest answers and keep your dog close.
At Other Times
NEVER leave your dog tied up outside a shop. There was once a time when it was the norm, but all it takes is a few minutes to get a lead untied. This can be anywhere, from a village shop to a busy supermarket.
Dogs should not be left outside unattended – don’t take them with you if you have to leave them
Don’t leave them in a car unattended either. A smashed window and quick grab are all it will take. If you’re choosing a doggy daycare or someone to look after them when you go away, always pick a reputable company with high security and great reviews, or someone you trust.
If you breed puppies, be careful when showing people. Have someone else present, lock external doors so nobody can get in or out easily and show puppies in one secure area. Also, limit the number of people who come in at any one time.
How To Ensure You’re Reunited
If your dog is stolen, you need to act fast to get them back. Inform the police, insist it is down as a theft and not a loss, and report to your microchip database.
Also inform local vets, as many lost pets sites as possible and talk to other dog owners in the area in case our dog is offered for sale.
Always ensure they’re microchipped. It is the law anyway, but you need to keep it up to date and check everything is correct. A collar with an ID tag is also essential if they’re on a walk, and adding a contact number is a good idea (although you should avoid using their name).
Take plenty of photos of your dog, with some with you in it to prove ownership quickly and easily.