March 14th-21st has been designated Pet Theft Awareness Week. More than 60 dogs a week are reported stolen to DogLost. Any dog is at risk but designer toy breeds and gundogs appear to be particularly targeted.
Reduce the risk
Although it is impossible to completely negate the risk, there are lots of things you can do to protect your beloved family member:
- Don’t leave your dog outside a shop or supermarket – this is a really easy way for a thief to steal your pet. If they won’t be allowed in, leave them at home or take someone with you who can wait outside with the dog.
- Don’t let your dog out of sight when exercising – work on your dog’s recall and keep them on a long line until this is 100%. When your dog is running free, keep focussed on them and don’t get distracted in conversation with other people. This is important to prevent dog to dog problems as well.
- Don’t leave your dog unattended in a vehicle – dogs can get heat stroke very quickly inside a car so this is important for both their health, and protection against theft.
- Make sure your house, garden and any outside kennel facilities are secure – check locks on gates and pens, consider CCTV and don’t leave your dog unattended in the garden.
- Be careful who can see your pet’s photos on social media and make sure your address is not identifiable – this is particularly important if you have a litter of puppies as there have been reports of thieves targeting new litters.
- Change your routine regularly – don’t always do the same dog walk and at the same time as this will make you and your dog an easy target. Changing the route a bit will also provide more interest to you and your dog.
- Be aware of other people around you when walking – if you see someone acting suspiciously or taking an abnormal interest in your dog, act on your instincts. Call 999 if you are particularly concerned.
- Get your pet neutered and make a note of this on their collar tag – this may put off people who intend stealing your dog for breeding purposes.
What to do if your dog goes missing
- Don’t panic, staying as calm as possible will help you to think straight and do things in a systematic way which will improve your chances of finding them. Remember that they may have just wandered off.
- Have a recent photo of your pet showing any distinguishing markings. A side view and a head shot are very useful.
- Speak to people in the area to see if they saw or heard anything and take down witness names and details.
- Have your pet’s microchip number to hand. Call the microchip database as soon as possible to report your pet missing or stolen so that this will be flagged if anyone attempts to change the details. If you’re not sure which database your pet’s chip is registered with, enter it on Check-a-Chip.
- Contact your local dog warden and local veterinary practices so that people are aware and able to look out for your pet.
- Contact the police – if you think that your pet has been stolen, contact the police as soon as possible. They may not be able to do much in the way of finding your pet but they will have to record the information which will help in determining the true magnitude of the problem.
- Contact DogLost
- Use social media and posters in the local area – getting as much information about your pet shared as widely as possible helps to improve the chances of them being found.
- Return to where your dog went missing and keep calling them – they may have been spooked by something and run off. Some people have had success cooking sausages by attracting their dog to the scent!
- Don’t give up – some pets are found and returned home years after going missing.