2020 saw one of the worst years ever for dog theft in the UK as the demand for dog’s soared…
The Kennel club reported a 168% increase in people searching for puppies for sale on its website from the beginning of lockdown until the end of May, compared to the same period in 2019. With a surge in the number of people looking for a canine companion throughout lockdown, prices for puppies hit an all-time high with some breeds fetching thousands, which has meant that dog theft and intensive breeding has become an even more lucrative industry. Data from Dog Lost reported an overall increase of 70% in reported thefts this year.
Skinner’s, who provide quality food for working dogs, have found that the majority of dogs that were taken are stolen from gardens (23%), following this, dogs were most commonly stolen from homes and whilst being walked, accounting for a further 11% each of reported stolen dogs.
Amongst the breeds most commonly taken are working and gundog breeds such as springer and cocker spaniels, who are highly susceptible to being stolen due to their breeding purposes (many are not spayed) pedigree genetics, strong health and intelligent nature.
Owners of all dogs need to be vigilant now more than ever and those with pedigree dogs, especially working dogs, should be extra cautious given the rise in incidents.
The experts at dog food brand Skinner’s have been working hard for many years to help dog owners keep their dogs safe.
See below its top tips to preventing dog theft.
- Varying the times that you go for dog walks, and the routes you take, can help to prevent dog nappers in your area noticing a pattern. With 11% of stolen dogs taken on walks, noticeable routines can make it easy for dog nappers to plan their robbery. Whist out on walks, it’s advisable to not answer questions from strangers about your dog, as they could be collecting vital information. Knowing your dog’s name, temperament and when they’re walked makes it easier for criminals to take advantage.
- Be cautious of social media, stranger danger on the internet isn’t just a problem for children and teens but has been a growing concern amongst dog owners too. A growing social media trend for dogs to have their own Instagram account, with pictures of them running free across fields or playing in the garden, means that it’s easier than ever to collect information on animals. With everyone keen to show off their proud pup’s latest trick, be careful when it comes to tagging locations, training centres and local landmarks. Even better, make your dog’s account private and keep followers to a small circle of close friends.
- Ensure your property is as secure as it can be, fitting a bell to your garden gate so that you would be able to hear someone coming in is an easy measure you can take. If your dog could be visible through your garden gate, a panel of wood to make your garden totally private would mean that your dog is not on show to opportunists. If your garden is difficult to enclose, or your dog is lucky enough to have lots of land to run round, consider investing in a GPS collar so that you always know where your dog is.
- Never leave your dog unattended. Leaving your dog in a car with a window open or tied up outside a shop even just for a couple of minutes can be devastating. No matter how safe your local area feels, you just never know. It’s always better to be safe than sorry and not leave your dog without someone you trust to watch over.
- Most dogs are stolen for breeding purposes, making it clear on a tag that a dog has been spayed or neutered may deter dog nappers. It is a legal requirement for any dog in a public place to have a tag with their owners contact details, but we’d also recommend highlighting that your dog is chipped (also a legal requirement) and ensuring your dog’s microchip has the most up to date information logged. This makes it easier for dogs to be reunited with their owners if found. Not wearing a tag can result in a heft fine of up to £5000.
If you’re concerned that your dog has been stolen, report it to the police straight away as theft, rather than a lost animal claim, giving them as many details as possible. It’s a good idea to take regular photos of your dog showing off any key characteristics, as well as pictures with your dog – so you can absolutely prove it is yours.
Report the loss on as many possible of the missing animals’ websites, there is no single national database for this, so use social media, posters and your local press to share as much information as far as possible to ensure a widespread appeal.