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Dogs being stolen in the UK is on the rise. In the last year alone dogs being stolen has risen by 250%… This is thanks to the price of puppies skyrocketing during the UK lockdown, as prospective pet parents have had more time at home to dedicate to a dog. Unfortunately, a stolen dog could now be a legitimate threat to you and your pup as scammers are targeting dogs so they can sell them on to new homes for profit.
This is a heartbreaking and worrying issue facing UK pet parents, so we’ve put together a handy guide on how to avoid a stolen dog and help you steer clear of the dog napping crisis…
It’s compulsory under UK law to microchip your dog. This must be done before the dog is 8 weeks old, and you can be fined up to £500 if your dog is found to not be microchipped. A collar can easily be replaced by a dog-napper, so having a microchip will help reduce the chances of losing your fur baby, as any vet will be able to see that your dog belongs to you. In this case, they will be able to identify your pup and contact you straight away. Moreover, it eliminates the risk that if your pup is stolen, renamed and re-homed – as the next vet will not be able to proceed with registering your pup without your permission, as their legal owner. Microchipping is simple, quick, painless, and a legal requirement in this country, so make sure you ask your vet to get Fido microchipped as soon as possible for parental peace of mind and to adhere to the law.
In addition, it’s also required by law that all dogs must wear a collar in a public place that details their owner’s name and address. We’d recommend not including your dog’s name on the ID tag, as a dog-napper will then be able to address the dog with the name they recognise and pass it on to the person they sell them to.
If you’re anything like us here at Petlab Co., we know you’re bound to have a camera roll full of beautiful pictures of your favourite fur baby (you can Meet The Pets Of Petlab Co. here!). However, it’s great to have pictures of specific features or markings that clearly identify that your dog is yours. If the worst happens and you are separated from your dog, circulating photographs of unique colourings, a scar or an identifying mark can help the public help you get your pup back.
If you’re proud of your doggo, and active on social media, you probably share lots of pictures of them online. However, if you walk the same routes often (and let’s face it, we’re in a lockdown so we’re not exactly venturing far!) and tag your location, you could be advertising to dog nappers exactly where to find you and your dog. Some dog-nappers have been known to steal photographs of your dog that you’ve posted publicly, and pre-sell your dog on before they’ve stolen them! This is particularly common for popular breeds. Right now that includes breeds like (but is in no way limited to) Pugs, Dachshunds, Spaniels and French Bulldogs.
Petlab Co. Pro Tip: If you’re out walking Fido and are approached in the park or the street, be wary of any specific information you’re giving freely verbally or being asked. If they want to know their age, sex, and health status that’s probably a bit of a red flag, and you should avoid that route for a few weeks. Due to the current global pandemic, it’s probably a good idea not to let too many people touch your dog when you’re out and about, so it may be worth asking people not to get to close anyway because of the coronavirus. However, this can also be a handy excuse and justified way of asking someone to back off if you’re feeling uncomfortable.
If your dog really enjoys being off the lead and you still feel comfortable with doing so, it’s important you feel confident that they’ll come straight back to you if you call their name. If a napper tries to tempt them over with a treat, you need to be certain they’ll prioritise returning to you and not following their nose and belly.
50% of dog thefts occur in your own back garden – nappers will simply jump over the fence and scoop them away. If your fence is weak or broken, get it fixed pronto. Secure any gate and consider installing cameras to monitor the goings-on in your outdoor space. Be sure to lock your house up properly when you go out without your fur baby too.
It’s time to stop leaving them tied up outside the corner shop, and letting them off the lead so much. Buy an extendable lead so they can still roam free but be a bit more hesitant in letting them off, particularly if their recall response could be better. However, some sneaky nappers will work together where one will simply cut the lead and the other will grab the dog. So, make sure your lead is robust and resistant to a scissor snip.
The same goes for cars – you should never leave a dog in a car unattended either as they are easily broken into.
Petlab Co. Pro Tip: If you rely on dog walkers, sitters, kennels or doggy daycare to help you look after your pup, be sure they’ve been vetted, recommended and researched thoroughly before you set up the relationship. In addition, make sure they’re clear on the risks right now and express your worries and concerns. Any good dog walker also shouldn’t be walking too many dogs at once (maximum should be up to 4).
Unfortunately, dog theft in the UK is still considered “petty theft” so the stealing of your precious pooch is considered as seriously as the theft of a mobile phone. If you’re a UK resident, consider signing this petition calling on the government to up the severity of punishment for dog theft. This particular one suggests a minimum sentence of 8 years and a fine of £5,000.
We here at Petlab Co. understand the emotional attachment one can form with their dog, and the heartbreak dog theft can bring, so encourage any safe activism on this issue including writing to your MP, sharing content like this blog to help inform other dog owners and engaging in online petitions.
If the worst does happen, and your dog is stolen make sure you notify the police immediately, as well as the microchip provider and call round all local vets and rescues to let them know identifiable marks and features to look out for when new dogs are brought in to them.