Dog snatching – tips on how to protect your pooch from dog nappers.

Alarmingly, dog theft is on the rise in the UK.  An analysis by Direct Line found that dog theft rose by 27% between 2014 and 2018, while dogs being returned to their owners fell by 25% between 2017 and 2018.  On top of these already worrying figures, arrests made in connection with dog theft have fallen by 10% and many police forces regard theft of animals low priority – dogs in particular that are worth less than five hundred pounds, get little police attention at all.

So how can you ensure your dog does not become another dog theft statistic?  Holidays4Dogs looks into the topic and offers some hints and tip on how to protect your pet.

Because dog thieves are rarely prosecuted, it means that criminals regard animal theft as low risk; but with high rewards for breeding or selling on valuable animals.  ‘Designer’ cross breed dogs top of the list for dog nappers, along with Spaniels, Chihuahuas, French bulldogs, Pugs and Staffordshire bull terriers.

While the majority of dog thefts occur when the dog is taken from a garden, or house break in, there are a worrying number of incidents where thieves have snatched dogs straight from the owner – and according to some media reports this can even happen at knife point.

The most recent incident occurred in Cornwall in December last year when a woman, walking ‘waffle’ her six month old labradoodle, was approached by a masked man who she believed to be holding a knife.  He demanded she hand the dog over and sadly he has not been seen since, despite wide coverage on social media and in newspaper reports UK wide.

dog sitting, pet sittingIncreasingly, dogs are being snatched while out walking with their owners.  Many owners have reported their dog has gone missing while briefly out of sight and some incidents have been caught on CCTV.  In 2017, a family had their 14 week old cocker spaniel stolen as he disappeared out of sight for just a few seconds – CCTV on a nearby public house caught the dog thieves in a white transit van; swiftly pulling up and grabbing the puppy.  While there are dozens of opportunist cases like this, there are also organised gangs of dog thieves who target areas that dog walkers frequent and wait for an opportunity to steal dogs that are not close to their owners.  Likewise, thieves often monitor residential areas to ascertain where dogs live and when the owners go out.

I myself have already had a suspicious woman approach me while I was out walking my Chihuahua puppy, Peggy.  The well dressed woman approached me suddenly from behind and asked me how much I had paid for the pup – a question I thought was both impertinent and odd.  Peggy, being nervous of new people, showed no interest in interacting with the woman even though the woman clearly wanted to get nearer to her; in fact Peggy growled at her at one point and as soon as this happened, the woman quickly walked away.

Tips to protect your dog from thieves.

  • Never leave your dog unattended in the garden or, outside a shop.  Think carefully about leaving your dog visible in a vehicle.

  • Always keep your dog within sight when you are out walking.  If your dog is apt to run off alone, it is far safer to keep him on the lead.

  • Be wary of strangers asking personal questions either about you, or your dog.

  • Try to vary your walking patterns so that thieves are unable to build up a picture of where and when you go out; giving them less opportunity to target your dog in a planned manner.

  • Consider investing in a home security system. Many systems will alert to your phone if movement is detected.

  • Always carry your mobile phone – call the police if you feel someone is acting suspiciously.

  • Keep an eye out in the local paper for any incidents of dog theft and avoid those areas when out walking.

  • Avoid walking alone or at night/dusk.

If your dog is lost or stolen notify the police, local dog warden and veterinary surgeries in the area.  You can also contact the UK National Pet Register where you can register your lost or stolen pet.

It can be heartbreaking for families to have their precious dogs stolen, so it is important to put safety measures in place which will drastically reduce the chance of your dog becoming another victim for criminals.