Pet Theft Awareness Week was set up by Arnot Wilson of the Dog Union and Richard Jordan of Viovet, the initiative works to educate the public on theft prevention and lobby MPs to get the law changed so that dog thieves face harsher penalties under law. Gareth Johnson MP and Neil Parish MP have helped lobby for change, and if you want to ask your MP to raise the issue, you can contact them via the “Write to Them” website.
The Pet Theft Awareness team are particularly promoting the use of technology to help track down stolen pets. Pet theft continues to increase 14% year on year, and only 29% of stolen dogs are currently recovered. There are ways to tip the odds in your favour though.
This is especially important if you have a valuable or in demand dog – after all, half of all stolen dogs are taken from gardens. Fit padlocks to your gates, and avoid half-gates that thieves can lean over. Consider installing CCTV and an alarm system. Check fences for weak spots, and consider replacing elderly fencing altogether with more secure metal fencing options.
Once your property is secure, ensure your dog cannot escape the garden. If you are securing a feline, consider special attachments to keep them fenced, or a transition to them being an indoor cat.
Microchipping is now compulsory for dog owners, and is highly recommended for other pets. Rescue animals will typically be chipped and registered to their new owners as part of their welcome package. Otherwise the procedure will usually cost about £15; some charities and non-profit orgs offer it for free.
Once you microchip your animal, ensure the vet has up to date details, and get the chip checked regularly; unfortunately chips can migrate and disappear.
Strangely, 16% of dogs are stolen during walking. This bizarre form of theft can include straight up muggings (especially with smaller dogs); dogs being taken when an owner is loading their car or even just opportunistic crimes if a dog slips their lead. Stay mindful of your surroundings and be wary of people trying to distract you.
Another 7% of dogs were stolen when tied up outside shops. It can be convenient to go shopping with your canine friend, but it can be dangerous, particularly if your pooch is one of the high risk breeds.
The main factors that influence a person being reunited with their dog seem to be microchipping; speed of response; and visibility. Do photograph your pet regularly, so if they go missing you can spread the word quickly on social media. There are pages specifically set up to help reunite lost or stolen pets with their owners, and local animal rescues are usually happy to share your pictures and information.
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