The number of dogs reported stolen in the UK rose to 1,776 in 2015, an increase of almost 25% in just two years. Our beloved pets are part of the family and the theft of a dog inevitably causes heartache and trauma. How can you protect against this form of crime?
Why does dog theft take place?
As with most forms of theft, dog snatchers are looking for a quick way to make a buck – and they don’t care about the emotional impact of their actions. The dogs most likely to be targeted are pedigrees and fashionable breeds such as French bulldogs, pugs and toy dogs.
Stolen pets may be sold on immediately or kept for breeding purposes: a puppy such as a British bulldog can be sold for £1,800 or more. While pedigree dogs fetch a premium, any dog can be a target or puppy farms or dog fighting rings.
Where is your dog at risk?
If you’d think twice about leaving valuables unattended somewhere, you should think twice about leaving your dog in that location, too. Never leave a dog tied up outside a shop or in your car, thieves could strike in minutes.
When walking your dog, avoid letting him or her off the leash in public spaces unless you are sure the dog will stay by your side. If your dog tends to roam, use an extendable lead where appropriate instead.
Dogs are often taken from gardens. Keep your dog in full view when they are outside, and erect secure fencing. You could even consider fitting alarms or bells to gates to alert you when someone tries to enter.
Tricks used by thieves
If someone asks to pose for a picture with your dog or asks lots of questions about the breed, take care. Thieves are known to identify dogs that can be stolen on subsequent walks in this way.
You are also particularly vulnerable when advertising puppies for sale. If you invite people to view the dogs in your home, do so from a single secure area, limit the number of visitors and ideally have another person present. You could also ask visitors to confirm their identity.
Care should also be taken when using kennels and dog walking or dog sitting services. Use a reputable company or a trusted person and check references if you’re not sure. Take a look at our 6 ways to beat dog theives infographic.
What to do if your dog is stolen
Making sure your dog is micro-chipped is an important way to protect it; it’s also been a legal requirement since April 2016. Keep your details up to date on the database and report the dog as stolen as soon as possible – this will prevent someone else registering the dog in their name. Your dog should also wear a collar with your name and address.
Take photographs of your dog showing distinctive features, and update these as the pet matures. If your dog is taken, these can be used for posters and sent to vets and rescue centres. You should also take photographs of yourself with your dog, to help prove ownership.
If your dog is stolen, this should be reported to the local authority and welfare centres, as well as your local dog warden. In Scotland, the theft should be reported to the police. You may also want to use the services of one of the UK’s missing dog registers to help trace your pet.
Having quality pet insurance is also a wise precaution, especially if you face veterinary fees or other costs if your pet is located; stolen pets are unfortunately sometimes dumped if they cannot be sold quickly. Insurance can also provide compensation for the purchase price of your dog.
Is it time you took out better protection for your four-legged friend? Call the Computerquote Pet Insurance team on 0800 840 1212 or 0239 262 7319 for further advice or a quote.