Dog theft: 10 simple tips to stay safe
It’s no secret that dog theft is on the rise. With demand for puppies and dogs soaring, there’s also been an uptick in criminals stealing dogs for breeding, poaching, and even fighting.
So how can you protect yourself from dog theft? Here are our top tips.
Make sure their microchip is up to date.
Aside from the fact it’s a legal requirement in the UK to have your dog microchipped, it’s also an essential tool in your arsenal for proving ownership of your dog.
- When buying or adopting a dog or puppy, make sure the microchip details are transferred to your name. If your puppy isn’t microchipped, head straight to the vets to get it sorted out.
- If you move to a new house or change your phone number, make sure you update your dog’s microchip details as well.
- Add details of a second contact.
Put a collar and tag on them.
A collar and tag are a legal requirement when your dog is in a public place, and are incredibly useful if your dog gets lost. Whilst dog thieves will simply remove the collar, you can still use the tag to make your dog seem less desirable.
- Include your name, phone number, and address on your dog’s tag. This will help them be found quickly if they get lost or are dumped by dog thieves.
- If your dog is neutered, add this information to their tag. Neutered dogs are less appealing as they cannot be bred. You might want to add this to your dog’s tag even if they are intact.
- Do not add your dog’s name to the tag.
Mix up your routine.
Dog thieves will often observe your routines to identify the times and places where they could steal your dog. This could be when your dog is left home alone or when you’re out on a regular walk in a quiet area. Mixing up your routine means you’re less of a target and are harder to predict.
Exercise caution talking to strangers.
If you’re approached by a stranger asking questions about your dog, exercise caution. They may be trying to figure out whether the dog is worth stealing or distract you whilst an accomplice makes their move.
You can avoid this by sticking to relatively popular areas, walking with others, walking during light hours, and even carrying a rape alarm.
Consider using a lead.
We all love off-lead play, but if you’re in an area that has reports of dog theft or that makes you feel at all uncomfortable, it might be best to pop your dog on a lead.
Even better, use a lead that you can attach round your waist and with a locking carabiner attachment. It’ll make it more difficult for thieves to grab your dog straight off of you.
Stay aware of your surroundings.
Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by mobile phones or the beautiful view. Keep a close eye on your dog and watch out for anything unusual.
Suspicious activity could include vans or groups of people loitering at popular dog walking spots without any apparent reason.
Don’t leave your dog unattended.
It’s best not to leave your dog unattended outside shops or in any public place to protect them from opportunistic thieves. Have someone else pop into the shop for you whilst you stay outside with your dog.
Don’t leave your dog unsupervised in the garden.
Plenty of dogs are stolen right from their garden. Dog thieves simply watch and wait until you aren’t paying attention and lift your dog right out. They’ll even leave gates open to make you think they got out by themselves.
Ensure your garden is secure and never leave them unsupervised in a front garden or a back garden with a side entrance.
Exercise caution online.
If you’re sharing pictures of your dog, make sure you keep the location vague and blur out their identification tag. Be wary of strangers on the internet asking lots of questions about your dog.
Choose a dog walker or sitter carefully.
When choosing a dog walker or sitter, use a reputable company and check their references. Ask for daily video updates if you’ll be leaving your dog overnight.
What to do if your dog is stolen.
If you suspect your dog has been stolen, you must contact the police as soon as possible. Insist they record it as a theft and not a lost animal and get a crime reference number.
- Report the theft to your microchip database so the number cannot be re-registered, and to your local dog warden so they can look out during their duties.
- Spread the word! Print out posters with images of your dog and pop them up around your local area, at vets, and popular dog walking spots, and send out appeals on social media and missing dog sites.
- Keep a close eye on dog classified websites in case your dog pops up for sale on there. If you notice them, alert the police immediately.
Every year thousands of lost dogs are reunited with their owners thanks to the hard work of local dog wardens and the police. For those that are caught straying without identification, charities like Dogs Trust step in to help them find a loving new home.
That’s why we’re donating £5 every time someone buys a PitPat dog activity monitor with the code DOGSTRUST25, and you’ll even get a cool 25% off. What’s not to love?
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