Police Advice – How to protect your Dog from theft

Dog thefts are on the rise as the demand for certain breeds increases. Criminals target the dogs, knowing they can sell them on to make money.

How to prevent it

Here are some simple steps you can take to reduce the chance of your dog from being stolen.

Registering and identifying your dog

  • Make sure your dog is microchipped and the details are correct on any of the recognised pet registration databases. Your dog must be microchipped by the time it is eight weeks old. For further information about the process and potential databases visit the UK government webpage on microchipping your dog.
  • Fit your dog with a collar; the tag on the collar should have a contact number and your surname, not the name of the dog.
  • Make sure you take pictures of your dog from various angles, especially if they have distinctive markings or features. A further photo of you with your dog can help to prove ownership. Taking photos of your dog in various conditions can also help, such as with a groomed coat or an untidy one.

Bichon Frise dog

At home

  • Pets are easily stolen from a garden or yard when left unattended, even if for just a few minutes. Front gardens are very vulnerable.
  • Fit a bell or gate alarm to any rear or side gates; the gates should be secured with British Standard locks, locking bolts or closed shackle padlocks. See our page on garden security for more information.
  • The garden boundary should be secure to prevent your dog from escaping or a thief from reaching in and taking your dog out.
  • Any outside kennels can also have a bell or small alarm fitted to warn you of any tampering; they should also have locks fitted.

When out and about

  • Never leave your dog unattended in a car – especially on warm days – as it is not just dangerous for their health but allows them to be easily targeted by thieves.
  • Leaving your dog alone outside a shop is another easy opportunity for a thief, even if you are only away for a minute.
  • It’s important your dog will return when called; if it is not trained to do this, be very careful of allowing them off the lead, especially in unfamiliar areas. You may wish to keep them on an extending lead instead.
  • Varying the times and routes you take when walking your dog will help to prevent your dog from being targeted.
  • Be careful of strangers asking you a lot of questions about your dog.
  • Social media can be viewed by thieves in many instances, so be careful about what you post. Be particularly careful with details of where you live, the type of dog you have and where you walk.
  • If you need to use a dog walking service or kennels, make sure you check references carefully to ensure the offer is genuine or the company is trusted.

What to do if your dog is stolen

There are a number of things you should do if your dog is stolen, all of which will increase your chances of recovering it.

  • Contact the police and report your dog as stolen, providing as many descriptive details as you can. Make a note of the crime reference number.
  • Contact your local council to make them aware, as many still have dog warden services that encounter stray dogs.
  • Contact the microchip database holding your dog’s details and update them about the theft. Should the dog be recovered and checked, it will be possible to reunite you.
  • There are many websites for missing animals, so make sure you add details of your dog’s loss to these, using the photos you have taken. Include the crime reference number.
  • Vets are also a good place to advertise the loss of any dog, as well as local animal rescue centres.
  • Noticeboards in local parks may also allow you to place missing dog details.

Author: Paul Middleton

Paul is a Ward Councillor for St. Andrews & Hornchurch Resident's Association Executive member.

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