Pet Theft Awareness – everything you need to know
How much do you love your dog? If someone asked me that question, I would say that “I couldn’t imagine life without our two”.
Do you love them enough to learn more about Pet Theft Awareness Day? I thought it would be a good idea to support Pet Theft Awareness Day and help raise awareness of the increasing risk to our beloved pets.
Frequent Media Stories
When I was a child, seeing a dog tied up outside a shop, whilst the owner popped in, was not an unusual occurrence.
Now, I get upset if I see a dog tied up outside a shop, whilst people rush past him, sat there staring into the shop (sometimes whining), waiting for their owner to return. I wonder, why on earth would someone do that nowadays and it upsets me to see a distressed dog all alone. All it takes is a couple of minutes and the dog may not be there when the owner returns.
I’m sure anyone who owns dogs is increasingly concerned over the, all to frequent stories in the media, of puppies and dogs being stolen, from gardens, from cars and even our homes!
The most recent one that comes to mind, is the little boy who wrote to Santa, saying all he wanted for Christmas was his border terrier puppy to come home. Luckily, the little boy got his wish, his puppy was found (read the story here). Times like these are when the media, and social media, become a force for good.
Pet Theft Awareness Day
Pet Theft Awareness Day was launched in 1988 by the Last Chance for Animals organisation with the aim of educating animal owners, not just dog owners, on how to keep their pets safe from being stolen.
The day is designed to bring attention to owners the importance of pet identification methods, and hopes to get owners thinking about the importance of their pet in the family and the responsibilities that go with it.
So Pet Theft Awareness Day encourages everyone to take steps to ensure their pets are safe.
Dog Theft Is On The Rise
In 2016, UK police forces dealt with 1,774 dog thefts, an increase of 19% on the previous two years. This works out at around 5 thefts a day, with only 1 out of the five being returned or found.
The real figure is likely to be much higher, as a survey of 2,000 dog owners found that 3% (the equivalent of 1.5 million people in the UK) have had a dog stolen in the past five years.
In the US around 2 million dogs are stolen every year and dog theft is on the increase in Australia and Canada too.
Thanks to Pet Theft Awareness Day, and social media, owners are becoming more aware and careful, but it is scary to know that,
11% of dogs are being taken whilst out on walks
however, you may be surprised to learn that
23% are taken from their own gardens and,
11% from the home.
The Most Stolen Breeds in the UK
The ten most stolen breeds in 2016, in the UK were:
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier ~ 42% of all stolen breeds
- Chihuahua ~ 9%
- Jack Russell ~ 7%
- Crossbreed ~ 5%
- French Bulldog ~ 4%
- Lurcher ~ 3%
- Labrador ~ 3%
- Pug ~ 2%
- Bulldog ~ 2%
- Cocker Spaniel ~ 2%
What You Can Do to Prevent Theft Or Being A Target
The following steps could help keep your dog safe from dog-nappers:
- Please don’t leave your dog in a car alone, or outside a shop;
- If you let your dog off lead, then ensure he has a reliable recall (practice this often and in different locations);
- Whilst out on walks, be aware of what is going on around you, call you dog back to you frequently. Most people walk in the same places, get to know the other dog walkers, so you can advise of anything unusual that you notice;
- Ensure you garden is secure, if you have a gate then make it is always closed and locked (fit a lock if needed);
- Never leave your dog alone in the front garden, it only takes a few minutes for someone to walk past, pick him up, get into a van and go!
- Ensure you home is secure when you are not there, if you have an alarm set it before you go to bed, many people are burgled at night and are not even aware they have been burgled till the morning (I have seen alarms now that the sensor knows when a dog is moving and does not set the alarm off!);
- Neuter your dog, as this make them less valuable to a thief who may want to breed puppies;
- Ensure your dog is wearing a collar with ID tag, mention that your dog is micro-chipped, neutered and up to date contact details;
- All dogs, by law, must be micro-chipped by the age of 8 weeks, it is your responsibility to ensure the microchip is registered on one of the 10 government-approved databases and that all details are correct and up to date.
- Keep a recent photo of your dog, one when for when they have been groomed with short fur and one before grooming, dogs that have been groomed and clipped can look completely different! Make a note of any distinguishing features ie different eye colours; and
- At least once a year, ask your vet to check your dog’s microchip can still be easily found and is working.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Goes Missing Or Is Stolen?
If the worse does happen and you think your dog has been stolen, or has gone missing, you will be upset and likely unable to think clearly.
It’s at times like these, that a close friend or relative could help you get the following points done, as the sooner these are steps are taken, the better the chance is of being reunited with your dog.
- Ask friends, dog walkers and other dogs owners to start looking, spread the word that your dog is missing;
- Create a poster, to hand out and use on social media, leave one in your local police station as officers might recognise your dog when out;
- Put flyers on notice boards, through letter boxes and around your local area;
- Social media ~ Facebook and Twitter are a great resource for getting the word out quickly. You might be able to find someone with a drone who would check the area where the dog was last seen;
- Check your home and local area thoroughly; go back to the last place they were seen, leave an item of your clothing your dog might come back to it;
- If your dog is missing, register your dog with a company such as Dogslost, the National Pets Register or Petslocated;
- If you suspect your dog may have been stolen, contact the police;
- Call your microchip company, they will update that your dog is missing and will alert them to anyone trying to re-register the same microchip number;
- Call your local kennels, RSPCA branch, other dog rescue centres, dog warden and local vets to let them know and see if your dog has been handed in;
- Talk to your neighbours, postman, milkman etc, as they may have seen your dog or observed something suspicious at the time they went missing;
- Check online lost and found websites and sites that have dogs for sale;
- Ask to check CCTV cameras, for vital information eg car registrations etc. Take screen shots of anything that maybe useful.
And Finally, A Happy Ending Story
Click here to read about Olive, the Cavapoo who was stolen from outside a shop. Luckily she was found, only a week later, having been sold to another couple, two and half hours drive away! They recognised her from pictures which were being seen nationwide.
As Anton Chekhov said:
“Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice”.
Print Off & Keep – Checklist and Poster
As an owner of two dogs, I found researching this piece really helpful, I hope you do too. Please do let us know if you have any other suggestions or tips to add to the above.
We have created a ‘What to do if your dog is missing/stolen’ Checklist and a Template Poster for you to use, if the worst should ever happen. You can find both the Template Poster and Checklist in our Resource Library.