Are dog thefts still on the rise? And how do you protect your dog?
It appears that dog theft is on the rise. The social media is full of dog theft cases, however, what you do not notice is how many of these stolen dogs get returned that afternoon as they were actually lost. Also, how many are old cases that you see every year and think it is a new case. The reality is one in 4,500 dogs in the UK are stolen every year. The amount of reported thefts is increasing yearly, but so is the number of dogs we keep. In 1965, we had 4.7 million dogs, now it is 9 million. In 1965, dog napping was so prevalent in the USA that they made it illegal. The UK followed suite in 1968. There are things you can do to lessen this chance too. The most common dog stolen in the UK is the Staffordshire Bull Terriers, however, coincidentally, the dog I find wandering the streets most with no tag and no chip is also the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Dog theft is often a business to make easy money. Dogs are stolen for the reward (Expensive dogs are a favourite, as they are likely to be insured with a theft clause). Puppies are stolen to be sold straight on for an instant profit, the younger the better. Entire dogs are frequently stolen to be bred from (any dog with a good look and pleasant disposition, also the current “it” dogs, the ones that are overbred due to demand) and occasionally dogs are stolen for bait to train dogs to fight (generally German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers and Bully type dogs) or even their fur! There are also the chancers who see a dog is missing and contact the owners for the reward without ever having seen the dog. Most dog thieves are chancers, so make their money less easy to make and therefore lessening your chance of becoming a victim.
The main place that dogs are stolen from is their own garden! Around 50% of the cases are taken from their back garden, then there are some stolen out on walks, from their home, in their car, while waiting outside shops, the list goes on, but one thing never changes, the majority are stolen to provide money! How do you reduce the chances of them making money from your dog?
Ensure you dog is Micro chipped and the details kept upto date. Apart from this being the law, if the dog is stolen and tried to resell, the new owners will likely get the dog to a vet and their chip will be seen! Even if they are used on a puppy farm, when they have served their purpose they may be dumped. I saw a story of a dog missing for 12 years, and she was finally returned home, very worn, had lots of puppies and very exhausted, but otherwise safe to live the rest of her days back with her family due to being Microchipped. 75% of missing dogs are returned due to their microchip.
Ensure your dog is always wearing a tag or even two. Also remove the ring that the tag came on and replace it with a super, strong ring. You can buy these for very little money, and it saves you having to buy a new tag as the old one got lost as the ring broke. It is law that every dog wears an identity tag, but how many dogs wander off from their owners and pass 10 people who would call the owner if only they had a tag on, and finally fall into the hands of a thief?
Ensure your dog is neutered. Going back to the dog missing for 12 years, the main reason dogs are stolen is to breed from. Not much good if they have no breeding tackle. You also want this written on their tag so that anyone who may find them can see they are neutered, discouraging them. Entire dogs or bitches are also much more likely to go walkabouts, so increasing the chance of bumping into that thief. I have a friend who had a video of a man entering her back yard, stealing her two dogs, and then dumping them further down the town, possibly when they saw that the dogs were neutered. This is obvious with male dogs, but not so with bitches.
Pregnant bitches are a bonus for thieves. Lots of little dogs for the theft of one. Be extra vigilant not to let
your pregnant bitch out of your sight or be left alone. When you are rehoming the puppies, take care who you invite in to see them and ensure they are in a secure area.
Keep your garden secure and do not let strangers know what dog you have there, lessening the chance of people looking to pinch breeds to order. If your dog is allowed out in your garden and you cannot have a lock on your gate, put either a bell or alarm to let you know people have entered, or dogs have exited. Also have CCTV videoing your garden.
Ensure your house is as safe as possible. Have CCTV surveillance in your house and advertise this outside. Have an alarm on every door and window. They might not be entering to get your dog, but it does not mean they will not take it on entry. Also, they could hurt your dog, or your dog could escape.
Choose dog walker or home boarder carefully. It is an unregulated industry, ensure you have good reliable recommendations, do not rely on people you only know on social media. Get the names off them, then research them yourself. It is not that they are likely to pinch the dog, the risk of this is very low, but how good are they with dogs? Will your dog run away from them? Escape out of their garden? Go missing when they are chatting on their phone? Ensure they have been in business for a minimum of 2 years and question if they are planning giving up any time soon. The star rating that the councils give is a good indication, however, home boarders can not get a full star rating if they leave the dog in the house on any occasion and I am not sure how convinced I am that these dogs really never get left, so do not dismiss lower stars just for that reason. Check how often they will leave your dog and what their dog lost policy is.
Beware people asking questions, are they just being friendly or are they trying to figure out how valuable your dog is. Do they have a dog of their own? If not, why are they talking to you? Just mention that it is spayed with a heart murmur maybe!
Make dog too hot to handle. Ensure you have lots of photos of your dog at all angles and photos of you with
your dog, so that you can quickly and easily put all these onto social media and on posters. Put where you are, the time and date, how the dog went missing, any distinguishing features There is no single national database, so ensure you join a few dog lost sites and local group sites on social media, as they are often members only and will require you to join before you can advertise, this can take time. Also find which ones do not require admin to permit them, as those few minutes waiting for admin to verify you could be vital in stopping that thief. Once they are gone with a thief, you are very unlikely to get them back, time is vital. Once stolen, a dog can be moved many miles in a short space of time. Do not forget, if you do not know the dog has been stolen, do not put it has, as this makes genuine cases less believable. When you get your dog back through the powers of social media, thanks everyone for looking and state they are home at the top of every post you put up.
Do not forget, your dog could just have got lost, do not just jump straight on the stolen. Call round all your
local shelters and the local authority warden and neighbouring local authorities, as the local authority have 7 days before they can euthanise, and once this has happened there is no getting them back. If they say no the first time, this does not mean your dog will not be there the next day. Keep checking.
If you know your dog is stolen, report it to the police and insist upon it being recorded as stolen with a crime reference number, not just a lost dog.