Reports of dog thefts in the UK have dramatically increased and shockingly risen by a staggering 170% in the past 12 months.
According to the charity DogLost, reports of thefts have risen from 172 dogs in 2019 to 465 in 2020. The statistics are terrifying for any dog owner and police and dog charities nationwide have urged owners to be alert and cautious when out with their beloved pets.
An increase in thefts during Lockdown
At a time when so many of us have found comfort and salvation in our beloved pets, this worrying trend has increased during nationwide UK Lockdowns, with Dog Lost reporting that 2020 and so far 2021 has been the worst year ever for dog thefts.
The rise in dog thefts during Lockdown has been huge, as demand has pushed up prices for dogs, particularly desirable breeds such as Cockerpoos and Cavapoos.
The Police have identified two types of crime. One is the opportunists where they see a dog on its own and they steal it and the other is the more organised element where they target breeders or people who are selling puppies online.
Prices of certain breeds have increased to between £2,000 and £3,000. Cavapoos, Cockerpoos and Cocker Spaniels have seen some of the biggest increases.
Thieves are now operating in even more calculating ways, with reports of fake RSPCA vans, stolen grooming vans and even spray painted marks outside the homes of dog owners. Local reports of thieves targeting children with dogs and women alone have risen in most areas during the early part of 2021, as Police and dog charities have urged dog owners to be extra vigilant.
The need for extra caution
The Police and several Dog Charities have urged dog owners to exert extra caution and to never leave a dog unattended outside shops or in front gardens-making, sure side passages and gated back gardens are safe and secure. Officers have also urged the public to be careful with sharing details and locations of their dogs on social media, especially with the rise of geotagging and live stories on most social media platforms that show your location in real-time.
After this significant increase in thefts, more than 230,000 people have signed a petition calling on the UK Government to make dog theft a specific criminal offence.
Last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel said she would look at introducing tougher measures to deter criminals from stealing pets.
Top tips for keeping you and your dog safe:
When out walking
- Avoid walking alone in quiet or lonely areas, or try to dog walk with a friend or family member. Safety in numbers.
- Be aware of your surroundings, remember phones and earphones can distract you and make you less alert.
- Use an extended or long lead when walking your dog if it has poor recall.
- Try not to do the same walk and route with your dog at the same time repetitively as this gives dog nappers opportunities to strike when they know your routine.
- Take photos of your dog each time you go out on a walk so you have up-to-date photos of it in case it goes missing.
- Don’t let children take dogs out alone as criminals often target children with dogs
- There are obviously some lovely people who want to chat about dogs when you’re out and about but be wary of any strangers asking probing questions, taking photos of your dog or seeming too interested.
- It is SO important to train excellent recall so your beloved dog will come back to you if there is any sign of danger or something not right. This will also mean they stay close to you and won’t go running off when out exercising.
- If you’re walking your dog, remember it HAS to have a collar and tag on by law.
- Never put your dog’s name on its tag. Put your surname, phone number and address. Do not put your dog’s name on the tag, as someone trying to steal them will try and call their name to get them to come over.
- Note if the dog is neutered on its tag, because a lot of stolen dogs go into the breeding industry.
- Make sure your pets are microchipped and the details are up to date and updated.
- When at home, keep an eye out for suspicious cars or vans or anyone hanging around outside your property
- Keep all of your dog’s insurance and important documents somewhere safe and secure. If the worst happens, you can easily access them in an emergency.
- Make sure your dog is safe in your garden by double-checking security on gates and having security lights or cameras installed.
- Never ever leave your dog tied up outside a shop. It is just not safe. The same goes for leaving dogs unattended in cars with windows open. Don’t make it easy for the thieves.
- Do checks on potential dog walkers or pet sitters and do not just hand your beloved pets over, even if they have come recommended by a friend or on social media! Try and find out if they are registered, insured and if they have any qualifications. You wouldn’t just hand your kids over to just anyone so don’t do it for your dogs! If in doubt, come to us!
- Consider getting alarms, wind-chimes or bells fitted to your garden gates or front gate so that they will alert you to any intruders and put off any opportunistic thieves, it may drive your dogs mad but it will be so worth it
What to do if your dog is stolen
If your dog is stolen, you must report it to the police as soon as possible. Get a post on social media too with a recent photo and description and contact Dog lost who have a team of volunteers trained to help track and locate dogs that are missing.
Contact local vets and rescue centres too with microchip details and get friends and the local community to reshare pictures so the missing dog becomes hot property to deter handovers or a sale is made.
Stay as vigilant as possible and keep safe. To book online for any of our courses to make sure your dog will always return please click on the link in the box below!