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The Rise of Dognapping – Is your Pet Safe?

Dognapping is on the rise and has been since 2012. Almost 2,000 dogs were stolen to order last year alone. There are a number of reasons why dog theft is on the rise:

  1. The high values attached to ‘designer dogs’

  2. A lack of awareness of the dangers of dognapping

  3. The lenient sentences that are given to those convicted of the crime.

Selling them on and for breeding are the two most common reasons for stealing dogs. Despite this topic being increasingly discussed in the media, owners are still taking risks by leaving their pets in vulnerable situations.

To prevent your dog from being stolen, we have shared some tips and advice on what you can do to keep them safe and if the unthinkable does happen - what you can do to make sure your dog is returned home safely.

1. Don't leave your dog unattended

Think twice before leaving your dog unattended outside a shop even if it’s only for a few minutes. It leaves your dog in a very vulnerable position and makes them an easy target for thieves.

Don’t leave your dog in the car alone. Not only can this be fatal due to high temperatures in the summer months, it can also give thieves the opportunity to break into your vehicle to reach your dog.

2. Make sure your garden is safe and secure

It’s been revealed that just over 52% of dogs are taken from gardens. Therefore creating a safe and secure outside space for your dog is important. Always ensure that you can keep an eye on them and never leave them unattended.

You may also look to fit a bell to your garden gate so you’ll be able to hear if anyone enters your garden. Dogs can draw attention to themselves by barking when in the garden, which can make them more noticeable to thieves.

3. Ensure your dog is micro-chipped

All dogs in the UK must be micro-chipped by the time they are 8 weeks old. Once this has been done, you should ensure that your contact details are kept up-to-date, especially if you have moved house or changed your telephone number.

You should also ensure your dog is wearing a collar and ID tag with your name and number on it - this is a legal requirement when your dog is out in a public place. It's a good idea to include a mobile number so you can be easily reached.

Avoid putting your dog’s name on their ID tag to eliminate the risk of strangers calling your dog.

4. Take photographs of your dog

You should ensure that you take regular photos of your pet from various angles, showing any distinctive features. This will help aid the process of returning them home safely, if they do go missing.

5. Ensure your dog is well trained

Train your pooch to come back when called, and never let them off the lead if you are not confident they will come back to you. If you are worried, you can use an extension lead so they can roam around freely but safely.

Image: Direct Line Pet Insurance 2018

What to do if your dog is stolen:

If you suspect that your dog has been lost or stolen, it is important to act quickly.

  1. You should first of all report that your dog is missing to your local council's dog warden and those in neighbouring authorities. The government has a feature which allows you to search for missing dogs.

  2. You should also report to the microchip databases - Petlog, PETtrac and Identibase. They’ll be able to notify you when your pet is found or if anyone tries to re-register the chip number.

  3. You should visit places where dog walkers go, such as parks and public areas. Talk to other dog owners, or anyone you come across, to see if they have seen anything unusual and ask them to keep an eye out for your dog.

  4. Check all of your dogs’ favourite spots, common hiding places and the surrounding local area - ask family and friends to help.

  5. Put up posters in the local area including local parks and vets. Familiarising the neighbourhood will increase the chance of your dog being found by a stranger. Make sure the posters include a clear, recent photograph of your dog and show any distinctive features.

  6. Post on social media to raise awareness especially local community groups - Facebook can be a powerful platform. Make sure your friends and family spread the word and share your posts so you can reach more users. Ensure your post is set to 'public' so it can go far and wide.

  7. If you believe your dog has been stolen, report this to the police and ensure it is recorded as a theft - not a lost animal, and be sure to take note of the crime reference number. Provide the police with photos of your dog and as much detail as possible.

  8. Contact local animal and rescue shelters and send them copies of your poster to display. You should also contact your vet to make them aware, incase your dog is taken for treatment.

  9. Register your missing pet on as many dedicated missing animal websites as possible, such as Animal Search UK. There is no single national database so you'll have to share the information with as many as possible. Make sure you share the poster with them too.

We hope you will never need to use these steps, but if you do, we hope they will help to bring your dog home as quickly as possible.

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