A charity dedicated to helping pet lovers locate their lost or stolen dogs said a recent spike in the number of recorded dog thefts could be attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic and warned owners to be alert to the possibility that they might buy stolen canines.
A UK police force recorded 53 dog thefts in 2021 – up from 20 in 2020 and just eight in 2019, according to a Direct Line Pet Insurance freedom of information request.
Only two of 53 missing dogs were returned to their owners.
Across the UK, 2,077 dogs were reported stolen to 35 police forces responding to the FoI request, although Direct Line Pet Insurance estimates the real number at up to 2,760.
Due to this threat to our furry friends, experts at PuppyHero.com have compiled a list of top dog theft prevention tips and provided owners with some useful information about the crime.
The service has also listed the most common breeds targeted by thieves, which the Derbyshire Times has compiled for a gallery below.
– Practice recall and/or use an extended leash: If your dog is in an emergency or in danger, it is important to make sure he responds to your calls. Try giving your dog tasty treats, as this greatly aids in recall.
– Avoid Routine: This makes it harder for dog kidnapping gangs to track you down and figure out when to intercept and steal your dog.
– Go for a walk with a friend: opt for safety in numbers if possible, a friend will provide an extra witness and backup should you encounter a canine snatcher.
– Don’t give out your dog’s name: Putting your dog’s name on their collar, harness or ID card makes it easier for strangers to lure them in.
– Be aware of your surroundings: keep an eye on your dog and avoid distractions like cell phones. Try to always have a charged phone with you and not wear earplugs when walking your dog.
– Be seen and heard as an owner: to make everyone aware that the dog is yours and that you are keeping a constant eye on it, to deter dog food killers, open, populated areas where you can be easily seen.
– Follow your instincts: if you suspect someone is following you or if you suspect someone, leave the area quickly.
– Avoid location tags on social media: This prevents thieves from finding out your address or where you regularly hang out with your dog.
– Extra Vigilant: Report any suspicious activity you see.
– GPS Tracking Collar: Consider investing in a GPS tracking collar so you know your dog’s location at all times.
– Be wary of strangers asking you lots of questions: Always be wary of any stranger asking unusual or constant questions about your dog (both online and offline).
– Dog walking/kennel/grooming services: Always conduct full and thorough checks to ensure they are trustworthy and reputable.
– Write down emergency SOS shortcuts on your phone: these can help when you feel threatened or unsafe.
– Wear an alarm device: These can help startle attackers and attract attention.
– Refuse help from strangers: Avoid offers of help from strangers with your dog unless it is absolutely necessary.
– Tint your car windows: Dognappers have been known to steal canines from cars.
– Keep your dog on the side of the building: lead him away from the curb.
– An adult should always be in control: Make sure children always walk dogs in the presence of an adult, as dog snatchers are more likely to target those they feel will be less resistant.
– Find local dog-friendly shops: to make sure your dog doesn’t have to be left outside or in the car.
– Protect your home and secure your property: Think dog cams, video surveillance and video doorbells.
– Dogs are easily taken out of yards: especially front yards, so make sure you secure your yard with high fences.
– Locks and alarm gates: to prevent unwanted intruders.
– Leave a light on when your dog is home alone: this can be helpful in the evenings to make it appear like someone is home. Also, always turn on an outside light during supervised night-time toilet visits so you can see your dog at all times.
– Outdoor kennels should also be alarmed and locked: for all dogs kept outdoors, ensure kennels are adequately secured.
– Gravel your path or driveway: This makes it difficult for intruders to approach unnoticed.
– Test your home alarm regularly: to make sure it works.
– Lock your dog door when you are not using it: and do not leave the window open in the room where your dog is.
– Do not present new puppies online: be careful when sharing new pets with others, puppies are especially valuable to dog sleepers.
– Non-chipped puppies are more valuable as they do not have ID: be extra careful in protecting the puppies as they are the main targets.
– Be especially careful with pedigree dogs: they are the most valuable and therefore the optimal targets.
– Neutered dogs deter thieves: With some thieves attempting to steal pets to breed, a neutered dog is less of a target.
– If you sell puppies, have another person present: limit the number of people and only show them in a safe area to protect your dogs from theft.
– Proof of Ownership: It is important that you have proof of ownership to ensure there are no disputes should your dog be lost or stolen.
– Keep ID collar tags up to date: Make sure your current mobile number and other contact details are on the tag.
– Have your dog microchipped: This will be done by your veterinarian, it will be relatively painless for the dog and inexpensive. This is a legal requirement in the UK before the dog is eight weeks old.
– Be sure to take photos of your dog: remember to capture many angles and all identifying features. Also take a photo of you with your dog and before and after grooming.
– Your dog’s DNA: If you’re really concerned about dog theft, consider collecting their DNA to match later if needed. There are services that can help with this.
Dog breeds most likely to be stolen and their average price: