DOG OWNERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO KEEP THEIR DOGS SECURE, IN SIGHT AND SEARCHABLE AND HELP TO MAKE PET THEFT A SPECIFIC OFFENCE.
In a recent survey of dog owners (April 2021) conducted by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), 96% of respondents reported being more aware of the risk of dog theft since the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown.
75% of dog owners reported having taken additional actions to protect their dogs from theft over the last 12 months.
There was an overriding sense from respondents (81%) that the police do not have enough or the correct resources to tackle dog theft. Of the 111 respondents stating they had been victim of dog theft, only 1 reported that there had been a successful conviction.
The largest and most well-known crime prevention charity in England and Wales - Neighbourhood Watch - have launched their PROTECT YOUR POOCH campaign. The campaign highlights simple but effective actions anyone can take to reduce their chances of becoming a victim of dog theft. The charity is encouraging dog owners to keep their dog SECURE, IN SIGHT AND SEARCHABLE, and help make dog theft a specific offence.
At present, dog theft is not defined as a specific crime, with dogs classed as ‘property’ under the Theft Act 1968. If caught, the penalty for stealing pets is generally a small fine or suspended sentence.
- Pets are easily stolen from a garden when left unattended, even if for just a few minutes. Front gardens are very vulnerable. Fit a bell or gate alarm to any rear or side gates - the gates should be secured with British Standard locks, locking bolts or closed shackle padlocks.
- Secure your garden boundary to prevent your dog from escaping or a thief from reaching in and taking your dog out.
- As well as a lock, consider fitting a bell or small alarm to outside kennels to warn you of any tampering.
- Be particularly careful of sharing or publicly posting on social media details of where you live, the type of dog you have and where you walk.
- If you need to use a dog walking service or kennels, make sure you check references carefully to ensure the offer is genuine or the company is trusted.
- Never leave your dog unattended in a car – especially on warm days – as it is not just dangerous for their health but allows them to be easily targeted by thieves.
- Leaving your dog alone outside a shop is another easy opportunity for a thief, even if you are only away for a minute.
- It’s important your dog will return when called - if it is not trained to do this, be very careful of allowing them off the lead, especially in unfamiliar areas. You may wish to keep them on an extending lead instead.
- Vary the times and routes you take when walking your dog.
- Be careful of strangers asking you a lot of questions when you are walking your dog – they could be distracting you to make it easy for them to steal your dog.
- Make sure your dog is microchipped and the details are correct on any of the recognised pet registration databases. Your dog must be microchipped by the time it is eight weeks old.
- Fit your dog with a collar - the tag on the collar should have a contact number and your surname, not the name of the dog.
- Make sure you take pictures of your dog from various angles, especially if they have distinctive features. A further photo of you with your dog can help to prove ownership. Taking photos of your dog in various conditions can also help, such as with a groomed coat or an untidy one.
We know our supporters are concerned about dog theft. That is why we are highlighting simple yet effective ways you can help to keep your dog safe. Keep them secure, in sight and searchable.
The Government’s announcement of a pet theft taskforce is welcome news. By encouraging the public to sign a petition to help make dog theft a specific criminal offence and writing to their MP, we are encouraging everyone to play their part in helping change the law.’
John Hayward-Cripps, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch says
To help change the law, Neighbourhood Watch is encouraging the public to sign a petition to make dog theft a specific criminal offence. Additionally, they could write to their parliamentary representative letting them know how they can help. All details can be found on ourwatch.org.uk/protectyourpooch.
Neighbourhood Watch also highlights the actions to take should you be unfortunate enough to have your dog stolen. Dog owners need to be aware of scammers who see missing dog posters and use this information to contact the owners and offer to return the dog for money - but of course, they never had the dog in the first place and the owners are at risk of losing not only their pet but their money too. If anyone demands money for the safe return of your pet contact the police.
For more information or to support the campaign visit ourwatch.org.uk/protectyourpooch.