As a huge dog lover and fur mama, I was horrified to read the news last week, when Lady Gaga’s beloved pooches fell victim to dog theft whilst in the care of her dog walker.
With this hitting the headlines due to the celebrity status (and ginormous reward for their return), it was the flurry of real-life complimentary stories that caught my eye.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, dog thefts in the UK have risen by around 250%. Dog and puppy sales have increased throughout lockdown, and this demand has caused prices to skyrocket, meaning criminals are making money by snatching and reselling dogs. They will steal a pooch to sell, to breed, or get this…. to return for a cash reward!!!!
So, what can we do to protect our pups from the real-life Cruella De Vils of the world?
Check those microchips
Make sure your pets microchip information is up to date. You can usually do this on the chip providers website, but if you’re unsure where to start, contact your usual vet who should have this information on file for you.
If you’re not confident with your dogs recall when they are off the lead, don’t risk it! Unbelievably, parks can be a common place for pups to be picked off, so make sure if they are off the lead that you can see them all times.
Never leave a dog behind
Other common places for dogs to be snatched from are cars, and from outside of shops if they are left tied up. Avoid doing this wherever possible – don’t put your pooch at unnecessary risk.
Secure your gardens
If you can believe it, 52% of dog thefts happen from gardens, so make sure yours is secure. If your dog is anything like mine, they like to go out umpteen times a day, so it’s important they are safest at home. And try to keep an eye on them when they are out – just in case!
Be careful what you share on social media, especially if you have a large following or a public account. For example, don’t share your routine, or where you walk your dog regularly. Criminals will sometimes target specific breeds, and use social media to find pups to meet their demand. High value dogs which could be targeted are: Labradors, Daschunds, Boston Terriers, and French Bulldogs.
When off on your daily dog walk, if you’re alone or in quiet places, be aware of your surroundings. Avoid having your headphones in, and stay off your phone. Dog thieves have been known to ambush walkers, using knives to cut leads and snatching dogs before the owner even realises what is going on. It may be worth exchanging your lead for a metal chain lead, which may act as another deterrent. Be sure to share your concerns with anyone who is looking after, or walking your dog on your behalf too.
If the worst does happen, be sure to act quickly. Contact the police and ensure you report your pup as stolen – not lost! Notify your microchip provider, your local dog warden, rescue centres and vets. Also use social media to get the message, and your dogs’ photo out as quickly as possible.
Amazingly, dog theft is not currently a specific offence in the UK, and despite the crime of theft carrying a sentence of up to seven years, it doesn’t include the act of dog theft.
The current laws and penalties don’t offer enough justice for the families and dogs that go through this trauma. They protect us, so let’s help protect them.
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