Dog theft and the Professional Dog Walker
Updated: Apr 14
By Tori Lynn Crowther and Sarah Baldry
Walking other peoples dogs is a huge responsibility. You have to care for their babies like your life depends on it.
With dog thefts increasing Doglost reported that dog thefts have risen by 170% over lockdown, Sarah even read that it has increased by 250%. Dogs Trust have reported that the price of a pug has increased by 78%. Some puppy prices have even increased by a whopping 400% Making this the perfect market for the thief! We need to be vigilant. Most dog thefts are still opportunistic, so ensure they do not have the opportunity.
Ensure every dog you walk is wearing a tag. This makes it easy for a stranger to ring to say it is found. No tag, too much hassle for most to find who it belongs to, so more likely to end up in the hands of a thief.
A few years ago, the sun or car theft were the things that worried you about leaving a dog in a car. Now it is dog theft!
Make it hard for thieves to plan a theft of your dogs.
· Always vary pick up times.
· Vary the order you pick dogs up in
· Vary the route you take when picking up dogs.
· Vary where you walk your dogs - and mix up the days - so no re-occurring weeks of Place One Monday, Place Two Tuesday, Place Three Wednesday etc
Take care when collecting/dropping off dogs.
· Park as near to customers houses as you can when picking up dogs preferably on their drive.
· Ensure your car is parked as safe as possible when collecting a client’s dogs, preferably with the boot away from the road so passers-by cannot see the dogs.
· Invest in a steering wheel lock, so no one can jump in your car while you are collecting the dogs and drive off with the dogs.
· Ensure all your dogs are strapped into your vehicle so if someone manages to open the door, they cannot just call the dogs out.
· Put a reflective sunshade on the windscreen. This will keep the dogs cool and double up as a way of stopping people seeing into your vehicle.
On the walk
· If it is possible, walk in pairs. This helps with your personal safety; thieves are less likely to target a pair of dog walkers than a lone dog walker.
· Always have your phone to hand so you can get a photo or video quickly.
· Do not wear headphones or earphones on walks - you cannot hear what is happening around you!
· Do not take personal calls whilst walking dogs keep your full attention on your dogs.
· Always ensure you have lots of photos of your dogs, so if you need them you can quickly show them to people.
· Do not tell anyone what breed a dog is or how much it cost - seems to be a regular thing nowadays for dodgy folk to ask. Always slip into the conversation that they are spayed/castrated, even when they are not…unless this is exceedingly obvious. Remember, the less desirable your dog, the less likely someone will want to steal it.
· Always keep your dogs near to you and in sight
· When picking up poos, check where all your dogs are and who is around before you take your eyes off the dogs.
· Invest in a panic alarm if you feel safer carrying one. But do remember a panic alarm could frighten the dogs and make them run.
· Always stay vigilant!
· Never leave your dogs alone. People leave dogs outside shops while they nip in to grab a drink, seconds is all it takes for a dog to be stolen.
· Be aware that Nobody can take a dog off you at any point, unless by court order, not RSPCA, not the Police, not a dog warden, nobody. If you feel under threat by anyone scream or shout as loudly as possible so that people will notice you
· Be aware that people are putting RSPCA on the side of their van and stopping people walking their dogs and claiming they can take their dog. Be aware of what an actual RSPCA van looks like.
After the walk
· Do not reveal your frequently visited locations on Social Media.
· Do not leave dog unattended in a garden.
If the worst happens and a dog is stolen
· Act quickly.
· Get all your other dogs on a lead immediately.
·Head straight for the nearest exit.
· Tell as many people as possible while trying to find your dog that you fear it has been stolen.
· Report to the local dog warden
· Ring around all the local shelters that dogs are taken to. If they say the dog is not there, ring again later.
· Make all the local vets aware.
· There is no central database but inform as many as you can.
· Make the dog too hot to handle on social media.
· Make a poster with a clear photo and details and display it everywhere you can.
· Report the to the microchip database so if anyone tries to reregister the microchip, the owners will be informed.
· If you know the dog has been stolen, report it to the police and insist it is reported as stolen, not lost.
Dogs that are currently most at risk of being stolen.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier