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How to keep your dog safe from pet theft

The idea that your beloved pet could simply be stolen from your home or from the street is almost unthinkable. However, the reality is dog thefts are at an all-time high in the UK and dog owners need to be aware of the risks of pet theft. 

To help dog owners keep their pets safe from criminals Oakpark, a home security specialist, has written a guide on the risks of pet thefts to coincide with Pet Theft Awareness Day on the 14th of February. The hope is by raising awareness of the dangers more pet owners will be able to prevent the risk of pet theft for good. 

Why are dogs being stolen?

The first thing to consider when you are trying to defend yourself or your home from theft or other crimes is the motivations behind the crime. As is often the case with theft, the main motivator behind dog theft is monetary gain. 

Some dogs make very tempting targets to thieves thanks to the high value that is often attached to certain “designer dog” breeds. However, it is important to know that dog thieves can make money from any breed of dog in a number of ways, including: 

  • Selling stolen dogs – This is often the fastest and easiest way for dog thieves to make money from stolen dogs. Many buyers aren’t particularly diligent when it comes to enquiring to the origin of their new pets which makes it easy for thieves to quickly sell the stolen dog for a profit. To fight this, it is important that you always buy pets responsibly or, better yet, rehome a rescue animal. 
  • Breeding puppies – This is similar to above but with a longer time frame and increased criminal business acumen. Thieves target dogs to be taken to puppy farms where they are kept in cramped and poor conditions whilst they breed and produce puppies which are then sold. More sought after breeds are more likely to be at risk of this form of dog theft. Similar to above, by buying responsibly we can help to fight this practice. 
  • Claiming rewards – This is a more creative but incredibly dishonest way criminals can make money from pet theft. It involves waiting until the distraught owner of the stolen dog offers a reward for any information about their lost pet. The thief then gets in contact, pretending to have found the “lost” pet and returns it so they can claim the reward. Some criminals even go so far as to demand a ransom be paid before they will return the stolen dog. 

How to keep your dog safe from theft

Now that you know why thieves want to steal your pet it is time to move on to some tips on how you can keep your pet safe from theft. 

  • Don’t leave your dog unattended – Majority of pet thefts are opportunistic rather than planned. This is why it is important to not leave your dog in a vulnerable position such as alone in a car or tied up outside a shop. Criminals won’t hesitate to seize the opportunity and steal your pet. 
  • Secure your garden – Many dog owners mistakenly believe that their garden is safe and leave their dog to run around unobserved. However, the Pet Census has estimated that up to 52% of stolen dogs are taken from their owner’s gardens. Always keep an eye on your dog when he is in the garden and make sure your gate is secure. 
  • Make sure your dog is microchipped – Microchipping your dog when it is over 8 weeks old is a legal requirement in the UK and helps authorities to reunite stolen or lost dogs with their owners. It is important that you keep your details updated, such as address and contact number. 
  • Give your dog a collar – It is also a legal requirement in the UK that all dogs in public places wear a collar with your contact details on. Similar to above, this helps authorities or strangers return your dog if it is lost or stolen. Avoid including your pet’s name on the tag however as thieves can use this to call them away. 
  • Get your dog neutered or spayed – As we previously mentioned, some criminals target dogs so that they can breed them at puppy farms. Having your dog spayed or neutered helps to reduce the risk of your pet being targeted for this reason, especially if you include it on their dog tag. 

What to do if your dog is lost or stolen

If your dog is lost or you think that someone might have stolen it then the key is to act quickly. The faster you can raise awareness of your missing pet the higher your chances of finding them are.

Here some ways you can help to raise awareness of your missing or stolen dog and help them be found and returned:

  • Retrace your steps – If your dog went missing during a walk then it is a good idea to retrace your steps and look for any clues that might show where they went. Search any obvious hiding spots around your area as well.
  • Put up posters & use social media – Putting up posters in your neighbourhood and sharing images of your pet online is a great way to get the word out about your missing dog and increase the chances of someone spotting and returning your lost pet. 
  • Contact your microchip database – You can contact the microchip database and register your dog as missing. This helps them to be on the lookout if anyone attempts to re-register the chip number. 
  • Register your pet as missing online – In addition, there are a number of websites where you can register your pet as missing. This gives you access to thousands of volunteers and makes it far more likely that someone will find your pet. 
  • Contact local vets and rescue shelters – It is also a good idea to contact all of your local vets and rescue shelters in case someone finds and takes your dog there. This also allows the vet to warn you if someone brings your dog in for treatment. 
  • Report it to the police – Finally, dog theft is a crime and if you suspect someone has stolen your dog then you should report it to the police. Be sure to provide them with as much information as you can, such as a physical description of your dog, any details of the theft and its microchip number. This will help them find your pet.