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DOG THEFT: What to do by Anna Strowgar

DOG THEFT by Anna Strowger

ONCE AGAIN THERE HAS BEEN A RISE IN DOG THEFT ALL BREEDS AND IN ALL AREAS...What can you do to prevent it happening to you?

DogLost reports of stolen dogs were 65% higher during lockdown 2020 compared with last year and rising week by week. Police have warned owners to be extra-vigilant in all areas at all times.

WHY are dogs stolen?

For a quick untraceable cash sale down the pub, from a garage or at car boot sale, etc, (its surprising how many people actually buy dogs in this way).

We know sadly some are used for breeding, often on puppy farms where they are kept hidden for years then dumped/disposed of when they can give no more. Puppies are moved from these farms to houses to sell so new owners have no idea where they were born or who in fact the mum was/is .

It is a sad fact that dog fighting still goes on today, so some are stolen to fight or used as bait dogs.

Dogs are stolen and kept unharmed by thieves who wait for a large cash reward to be offered/posted on Facebook sites then collect the money from unsuspecting traumatised owners.

One thing that has become more common is "unscrupulous" breeders stealing them back from new owners to resell (choose your breeder VERY carefully). Then there are the "false" stolen stories where owners try to claim on the insurance.

Domestic situations are common too with one partner claiming the other has stolen the dog, tricky to solve sometimes.

Make sure your dog is microchipped and that you keep your contact details up-to-date, especially if you move house or change your telephone number. If you fail to get your dog chipped (it is now the law), fail to keep the details up-to-date or your dog doesn’t wear a tag on their collar while out and about and you do not claim or prove you are the owner then your dog can be rehomed after 7 days.
Dogs and puppies in the UK must be microchipped by eight weeks old, by law. 

Your dog should always wear a collar and ID tag with your name, phone numbers and postcode area on it, avoid putting your dog’s name on the disc (that just helps a thief befriend your dog). This is a legal requirement when your dog is in a public place.

  • Take clear photographs of your dog from various angles and update them regularly. Make a note of any distinguishing features that your dog has.
  • Have lots of photographs of yourself and family with your dog to help you to prove ownership if needed (microchips can move and be tricky to find or sadly even be removed). Train your dog to come back when called, and never let them off the lead if you are not 100% sure they will come back to you. If in doubt, use an extending lead, especially if you are in an unfamiliar area where your dog may get lost more easily.
  • Think twice before leaving your dog tied up outside a shop. You will make them a vulnerable and tempting target for opportunist thieves.
  • Do not leave your dog alone in the car, even for a few minutes. Thieves can easily break into your car to steal your precious pet. Also do NOT leave your dogs in the boot of your car un-restrained (at any time, see the law)! Dogs can jump out, run away and get lost, thieves also watch for automatic car boots that open and they strike before you are out of the car!
  • Take care when choosing someone to care for your dog if you are going away from home or need a dog walker/day care whilst you go to work. Use a reputable company or boarding kennels and check references for people who provide dog or house-sitting services. Dogs have been stolen (lost deliberately) in this way.
  • At home, make sure your garden is secure and fit a bell to the gate so you hear if anyone opens it, CCTV, alarms and security lights are a must have. Check every day to see if your home has been marked by dog thieves e.g. chalk marks, cable ties, paint on posts, etc.
  • Try not to make it “too” obvious that you have dogs, especially desirable breeds. Letting your dog sit in the window if on view to the public, garden ornaments and decals on vehicles all draw attention to thieves, (if out and about in a vehicle with decals on them, check you are not followed home) and if on social media sites, do make sure only your family and friends can see your profile and remember to hide your exact location.
  • Keep your dogs in view in the garden, do not leave them outside unsupervised EVER and check your gates and fences for damage before letting them out.
  • If you are a breeder, sell or re-home dogs from your home take great care when inviting people in to view. Ideally have someone else present and limit the numbers of people you have at a time and ask them all to bring proof of ID.  
  • Beware of strangers asking you questions about your dog, cold callers, odd phone calls and any suspicious or unfamiliar vehicles parked nearby your home or hanging about while you are out on walks. Vary your times of walks and routes, some dogs are actually targeted and snatched during walks.
  • If your dog is lost or suspected stolen, it is important to act as quickly as you can, seconds and minutes quickly turn into hours and that’s lost time SO... 
  • Report the loss to your local council’s dog warden and those in all other neighbouring local authorities. Report the loss/theft to the microchip database, if your dog is scanned it will flag up as missing/stolen and this will also ensure that if anyone tries to re-register the chip number, you will be informed. Make sure local vets are aware in case someone hands your dog to them or takes your dog in for treatment following an RTA.
  • If you believe your pet has been stolen, report it to the police and insist it is recorded as a theft and not a lost animal. Ask for a crime reference number.

DogLost is a FREE service. We can have volunteers out searching within minutes, send out email alerts and make a poster for you and the public to share and print we also have Police support so it is really vital you register with DogLost ASAP!

Also contact our Bulldog Rescue Lost & Missing Facebook page, our BDR & DogLost Volunteer will help you immediately and depending on the circumstances, guide you through exactly what to do and what not to do...

Print and display posters in areas local to your home and also in relevant places such as vets, local parks, shops, garages, hand out to postmen, bin men, etc.
The poster should include a clear photograph, contact details and the circumstances. Report the loss on as many of the missing animals websites, selling sites and social media pages as soon as possible, ask someone else to help you do this as you will be busy doing other things.