With criminals looking to make a quick buck from the increased dog prices nationwide, pet owners have been warned to take extra precautions to protect their pooches from theft. Thousands of dogs are stolen from their owners each year in the UK, so experts from Quotezone.co.uk have some pointers to help owners deter dognappers.
Prices for a new pup have stabilised at a higher level than before the pandemic at over £1300, unfortunately making furry friends prime targets for thieves. Over 2,000 dogs are subject to theft each year in the UK, with reports increasing since the pandemic, driven mainly by their increase in value. There is concern that the cost-of-living crisis will trigger a new wave of dognapping, with criminals seeing it as a way to make quick cash.
In the Greater London region alone, the Metropolitan Police revealed that 1029 pets were stolen from gardens in the first five months of 2022. This was a 662% increase from reports the previous year, with only 135 reported garden thefts. Dogs are the most commonly owned pet in the UK, and as a nation of dog lovers, 34% of households are at risk of being targeted for their furry companions.
Greg Wilson, Founder and CEO of Quotezone.co.uk, said: “Although precautions such as micro-chipping can help reunite pets with their owners, it, unfortunately, doesn’t stop the actual theft. Visible collars with GPS tags may help act as a deterrent but it’s important to review home security and where your pup spends time alone.
“Since lockdown, there has been a significant increase in the price of dogs, making them a lucrative target for criminals.
“However, there are many preventative measures that pet owners can take to reduce the risk of dog theft. We’ve created a list of some suggestions to help improve security and protect your pup.
“No one wants to imagine their pet being stolen, but the reality is that the crime will only get worse with the cost-of-living crisis as thieves see an increasing opportunity to make money.”
Quotezone.co.uk has revealed ten tips to help prevent dog theft:
- Keep pups on the lead
Dogs love nothing more than a bit of freedom out on a walk, but owners eager to avoid harm’s way should keep their pooch on the lead to stop them from wondering too far. With no one around, anyone could capture a free-roaming dog. Investing in a long-line lead is a good idea so pets have more space but are still safe and close by.
- Practice recall
If owners would rather not keep their dogs on the lead and like letting them engage freely with their new surroundings, teaching them to be highly responsive to recall is vital. Dogs with poor recall are more likely to get lost and targeted by criminals.
- Take photos
Be sure to take pictures of your dog from all angles to help identify them, should worse come to worst you may need proof to get them back from rescuers and even photos with yourself and the dog, to help confirm ownership.
- Stick to open spaces
Sticking to open spaces and walking with a friend is highly recommended for dog walkers because it’s safer, and owners can see all around them. Try and avoid areas such as forests and woodlands with less visibility, it’s also more likely that dogs could get lost.
- Secure home and garden
Unfortunately, many dogs are stolen from their homes and gardens, so pet owners should consider improving their home security where possible with cctv cameras, burglar alarms, motion sensor lighting and joining the local neighbourhood watch scheme. Gardens are a prime spot for dognappers to target, so ensure they have locks and fences that people can’t jump or fit through. Even fitting a bell to the gate, pebble stones around the entrance and additional lights are helpful to alert owners to any potential intruders.
- Microchip pooch and keep it updated
If a dog is found after being stolen, pet organisations can read the registration information stored on the microchip to tie registration back to the owner. If a dog is resold after being robbed and an unsuspecting new owner takes it to the vet for a check, they can be reunited. For microchipping to work, information must be updated in the microchip registry. Immediately update contact information such as a phone number and addresses if it changes so the owner and pet can be reunited should they be stolen.
- Be wary of social media
Be careful of oversharing location tags and your favourite spots for walks on social media channels, especially live posting, it could make you and your pet more vulnerable.
- Invest in a GPS Tracker collar
GPS dog trackers allow dog owners to monitor their pooches’ location constantly. As long as the tracker remains attached, they can be located in real-time if they escape, are stolen or run off on a walk.
- Don’t leave pups alone in public.
Aside from the danger of overheating in the car, leaving dogs in the car is also tempting for thieves. They can quickly smash the window and steal lone pups. Similarly, leaving a pet unattended outside a shop is just as risky.
- Vary walks
Dognappers can target people they see going on the same walks regularly, so make sure to alternate routes in case suspicious strangers are watching. Be extra cautious of overly friendly people who ask lots of questions about your dog.