Pet owners are being warned of the dangers of leaving their beloved cats and dogs unattended over the Christmas period. That’s according to research released today from petGuard which has found almost a third (29%) will be left alone in the house as people travel to visit friends and family this festive season.
The research, conducted by Opinium, found that one in ten (10%) of people will be leaving their pets completely unattended and a further 19% will have some form of pre-arranged and occasional check-up by friends or neighbours. Of those that will be away, over a quarter (28%) will be taking their pet with them, 23% will be leaving them with friends and family and 15% will check them into a boarding facility. According to the data, a fifth of cat and dog owners (21%) confirmed that they have left their pet home alone over Christmas previously. This figure rises to over a quarter (26%) in those aged between 18-34.
The research follows the creation of a new Pet theft task force in the UK, set up to address the alarming trend of pets being stolen. According to data from the Kennel Club, there were an estimated 2,355* cases of dog theft in 2020, which is a 7% increase on 2019. Data from the 2021 Cat Theft report shows the number of cats being taken has risen almost threefold in five years, with a notable 12.3% in the last year.
“This may be the season for jingle bells but pet owners should be hearing alarm bells if they’re considering leaving their pet at home this Christmas”, said Alex Bennett, Director of Thistle Insurance. “It’s a prime window of opportunity for theft with dark nights and empty houses clearly visible from the street. While the majority of people will buy a gift for their beloved pet this year, a better present could be to ensure they are well looked after, protected from potential pet thieves and that their safety is not left to chance when it comes to being taken.”
Indeed, the research found that almost three-quarters of cat or dog owners will be buying their pet a Christmas present (73%), with 44% definitely doing so, those living in the West Midlands are most likely to buy their pet a gift (84%) compared to 66% of those in the South West.
Bennett concluded, “Unfortunately for pet owners, thieves don’t subscribe to the spirit of giving around Christmas time and would much rather take, especially if your pet is an easy target.”