Tips : The rise in dog theft and how to keep your dog safe. 

This Holidays4Dogs article follows on from our discussion about the massive recent increase in dog theft during periods of lockdown in the UK.  The rise in dog theft has come in an increasing wave following huge hikes in prices for pet dogs.  Costs have risen from an average of a few hundred pounds to now, two or three thousand pounds and often, very much more. This has meant dogs are valuable targets for dog nappers and both organised gangs and opportunist thieves have grown in alarming numbers.

According to a survey carried out by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex, Katy Bourne, more than 80,000 dog owners say they are now much more fearful of taking their dogs out for a walk after reports of frequent attempted and actual dog thefts.  Certainly, I myself am much more concerned about walking alone and particularly in places where there is nearby access to vehicles in which your dog could be snatched and whisked away in.

Here at Holidays4Dogs we are equally appalled by this alarming rise in the number of dog thefts, as well as the lack of appropriate punishment currently available to police and magistrates.

So, in these difficult times, where dogs are much more likely to be stolen, what more can we do to protect our four legged family members?

It goes without saying that your dog should be micro chipped and wear an identity collar with your contact details, but not your dog’s name; (to deter strangers from coaxing your dog, using the his familiar name).

ALL HOLIDAYS4DOGS GUESTS WEAR ONE OF OUR UNIQUE NUMBERED I.D TAGS AS WELL AS THIER OWN I.D TAG AT ALL TIMES AND MUST BE MICROCHIPPED – IT’S THE LAW

Make sure you have detailed photographs of your dog from different angles, taking special care to capture any distinctive markings.  A photograph of you with your dog also provides evidence of ownership.

HOLIDAYS4DOGS FREE REGISTATION INCLUDES A REQUEST FOR A PHOTO OF YOUR DOG. A DOG CONDITION CHECK LIST IS ALSO INCLUDED ON ALL STAYS IDENTIFYING FEATURES OF YOUR DOG.

At home, make sure your garden is secure and never leave your dog unattended. Our Holidays4Dogs carers will never leave guest dogs unattended in a garden for this, and other health and safety reasons.

It’s also a good idea to fit an alarm to any gates on the property and all should have locking bolts or padlocks to deter strangers from entering.  Even a simple bell erected on a gate will alert householders of potential intruders.  If your dogs are kenneled outdoors, it would be wise to fit cameras and or alarms, or consider bringing your dogs indoors.

Make sure your garden is secure and high enough to prevent people from reaching over and lifting your dog away.

HOLIDAYS4DOGS CARERS NEVER USE KENNELS. YOUR DOG LIVES IN THE HOUSE AS PART OF OUR FAMILY AND IS NEVER LEFT IN THE GARDEN UNATTENDED. ALL OUR CARERS GARDENS MUST BE LOCKED INTERNALLY AND REACH A MINIMUM HEIGHT FENCING REQUIREMENT.

I personally choose to close curtains and blinds on the ground floor when leaving my dogs in, to prevent anyone scouting to see what dogs are in the house.  This does mean a little more lack of light, but for short periods is fine and far better than someone marking my dogs for theft; either then, or while I am out walking.

When out and about, never leave your dog alone in a car, or outside a shop, as opportunists have been known to break into cars to steal dogs.  Only last week, I saw a poster for a dog that had been taken from a car parked in a supermarket car park.  Don’t risk it!

HOLIDAYS4DOGS CARERS NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG ALONE OUTSIDE THE HOME – EVER.

It is really important that your dog comes back to you straight away when called and if this is not possible, always keep your dog on a lead.  Never allow your dog to roam out of sight ahead, or round the corner of a path.  Always carry your phone. If I see anyone approaching who seems suspicious, I take out my phone and set it to record.

Vary your walking routes to reduce the chance that you and your dog are targeted and always try and choose places where other people can see and hear you.  You will know your local area and it is a good idea to give some thought to suitable places to walk.  Generally thieves will frequent areas where they can make a quick getaway in a vehicle, so perhaps be mindful of the more remote countryside car parks, lay-bys, service roads etc.

Be careful of what you post on social media and be mindful of who your audience is.  Thieves have been known to scour social media for information on the whereabouts of specific breeds and litters of puppies, so it is better not to post pictures that may give away the type of dog you own, where you walk or your location.  Certain breeds, young dogs and puppies are more likely to be targets for thieves as these will fetch large sums of money when sold on.

Many of these precautions may seem over the top and somewhat unfair, but sadly, it is just not worth taking the risk when there are so many people willing to steal dogs.  There is much to gain and little to risk for them, while punishments remain too lenient.  At Holidays4Dogs we hope that soon the situation will change; so that anyone stealing a much loved pet and family member will be sentenced much more harshly and thereby decrease incidents of dog theft in the future.

Please let us know of any other measures you take to keep your dog safe from thieves and we will add them to our tips list.

Read here Holidays4Dogs safe guarding of dogs out walking from theft and risk assesment