How to Protect Your Dog From Theft

Guest Post by Dan Baker is a Content Writer that works with Oakpark Group

Pet Theft Awareness

For many dog owners, the idea of someone stealing their pet from the street or even from their own garden is unthinkable. Unfortunately, it is a very possible scenario. Dog theft in the UK is on the rise and has reached an all-time high. To help dog owners keep their pets safe from criminals Oakpark, a home security specialist has written this article on the risks of pet theft to coincide with Pet Theft Awareness Day on the 14th of February.  By raising awareness of the risks of pet theft dog owners can work to protect their pets from criminals and stop pet theft for good. 

Why are dogs being stolen?

The first step in trying to prevent criminals is understanding their motivations. Much like with most theft, pet thieves are attempting to make money from stolen pets. Thanks to the high value we place on certain “designer dog” breeds, pet thieves can actually make a surprising amount of money from stolen dogs. Although some breeds of dogs are more sought after than others, it is important to remember that criminals can make money from all dogs in a number of ways, including: 

Selling the dog

Unfortunately, not all dog buyers buy their new pets responsibly and pet thieves often take advantage of this to quickly sell stolen dogs for a profit. It is important that we all buy pets and animals responsibly and ask questions to establish the animal’s origin and past.

Puppy breeding

The government is cracking down on puppy farms in the UK, however, there are still criminals target dogs for breeding in poor and crowded conditions. The more popular and expensive dog breeds are more likely to be targeted for breeding as they can provide the highest returns.

Ransom & rewards 

Some dog thieves always intend to return the stolen dog but only after they have been paid in some way. This can involve contacting the owner to demand a ransom or waiting for a reward to be offered and then pretending to have found the lost dog and return it to the owner and claim the reward.



How are dogs being stolen?

Now that we have covered why criminals are stealing dogs, let's look at how they are doing it. The majority of dog thieves are opportunistic and seize opportunities that present themselves rather than planning out thefts.

Here are some of the common places dogs are stolen from:

In the park or during walks

Dog parks and popular walking spots are prime hunting spots for dog thieves, especially when it is busy. It can be easy to lose sight of your dog whilst it runs around and plays and thieves can take advantage of the confusion to steal your dog. It is important that your dog responds and comes to your call before you let it off the lead in public.

When they are tied up outside shops

Many dog owners often take their pets on walks to shops and town centres and have to leave them tied up outside shops when they go in. Even though these visits are often very short it can leave the dog in a very vulnerable position and criminals only need a short time to seize the opportunity.

From your garden 

Many pet owners assume that their dogs are completely safe in their gardens and let them out unobserved. The reality is that 52% of stolen dogs are taken directly from their owner’s gardens, according to the Pet Census. Make sure you keep an eye on your dog when it is in the garden and make sure your gate is well secured.

From a car 

Leaving your dog alone in a car, even for a short time, is considered to be a bad idea because of the health risks, such as heat stroke. However, another reason is thieves won't hesitate to break your car windows to get at your vulnerable dog.

You might have sensed a pattern forming that dogs are most likely to be stolen when they are left unattended in public.  This is why it is important to keep an eye on your dog in public and stop opportunistic thieves taking advantage of their trusting nature.



Ways to prevent your dog from being stolen

In addition to knowing how dog thieves operate it is important to be aware of the ways, you can make it harder for criminals to target and steal your dog.


Don’t leave your dog alone in public

This might be the most obvious tip but leaving your dog unattended in public increases its risk of being stolen. The way to prevent this is don’t leave your dog alone when out and about, even if it is only for a short time.


Microchip your dog

Since 2016 it has been a legal requirement in the UK to have your dog microchipped once it is over 8 weeks old. This helps authorities and vets contact you if your dog is found. It is important that you make sure you keep your contact details up to date.


Give your dog a collar

In addition, it is also a legal requirement for dogs to wear a collar when they are in public in the UK. Make sure you have your contact details on the collar so authorities or members of the public can get in touch if they find your dog.


Have your dog spayed or neutered

As we mentioned previously, criminals often steal dogs to take to puppy farms. By having your pet neutered or spayed and including this information of the dog’s collar you can help put thieves off your dog.


Be vigilant during walks

Habits and patterns are often exploited by criminals and dog thieves are no different. Make sure you vary your walking times and locations to make it harder for thieves to target your dog. Also, be cautious of anyone asking too many questions about you and your dog, they might be after information they can exploit.


What to do if your dog is lost or stolen

If the worst has happened and your dog is missing or even stolen it is important that you act quickly. The faster you can raise awareness about your missing pet the higher your chances of them being found.

Here are some things you can do if your dog is lost or stolen: 

Retrace your stepsIf you lost track of your dog during a walk it is a good idea to retrace your steps and try and find them. Call out to them and bring their favourite treats to try and encourage them to find you if they are lost. Check local parks and any obvious hiding spots in your area.


Put up postersIf you cannot find them the next step is to raise awareness that they are missing.  Putting up posters in your area is a great way to spread the word. Make sure to use an up to date photo of your dog with your contact details.


Use Social MediaSimilarly, social media is a great way to get the public to keep an eye out for your dog. There are a number of online sites where you can register your pet as missing. Share your post on local information groups and increase the chances of someone recognising your dog and bringing them home.


Contact local vets, rescue centres and dog wardensOnce you have raised awareness the next step is to contact local authorities that are involved with dogs and pets. Places like vets, rescue shelters and your local dog warden can be contacted and given your pet’s details to speed up their return if they are found or brought in.


Tell the microchip databaseIf your dog is microchipped (and it should be) be sure to report your pet as missing to the microchip database. You can also take this opportunity to check your contact details are up to date. In addition, the database can alert you if someone else tries to re-register the chip number.


Report it to the policeFinally, dog theft is a crime so if you believe that your dog has been stolen then contact the police. Give the police as much information as possible, such as a description of your dog and any details relating to the crime, to increase their chances of finding your dog. Be sure to get a crime reference number so you can easily follow up on the investigation.




About the author:

Dan Baker is a Content Writer that works with Oakpark Group, a company that specialises in supplying home security and fire safety solutions across the UK.



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