Dog theft

dog theft

Back in 2019, we shared this advice about dog theft on social media in response to a number of incidences in the local area, particularly involving working gundogs. Little did we know then that this would continue to become a wider issue, fuelled by demand for dogs during the pandemic and a resulting surge in puppy prices. 

Whilst the media reports about pet theft are worrying, we’re keen to stress that it still remains relatively uncommon and pet owners ought not worry unduly while out on their daily walks. The issue is also being taken seriously on a national level, with a government taskforce recently introduced to investigate this rising trend.

That being said, there are some simple measures we can all take day to day to help keep our pets safe.

Identifying your dog

Ensure your dog is microchipped and that you keep the contact details up to date, for example if you move house. It is a legal requirement for dogs to be microchipped by 8 weeks of age and breeders must do this prior to sale. 

Your dog should wear a collar and ID tag with your name and address on (we also recommend a phone number). This is also a legal requirement and the quickest way to be reunited with a lost dog, if the finder cannot immediately contact a vet or dog warden to check for a microchip. 

Neutered dogs can be less appealing to thieves as they can’t be used for breeding. Consider adding ‘neutered’ to their collar tag too. 

Keep recent photographs of your pet, especially those which show any distinguishing features or show them with both long and short/groomed coats. This can help with identification and proof of ownership. 

Staying safe out and about

Pets are easily stolen from a garden or yard if left unattended – keep them in sight. Enclose your garden boundary to keep your dog in and intruders out. Check that fences and gates remain secure after high winds. Consider fitting locks and alarms to the kennels of working dogs.  

Do not leave your dog unattended outside shops or in the car, no matter how safe the neighbourhood seems, even if it’s just for a minute. 

Train your dog not to go out of sight on walks. If they will not return when called, keep them on a lead, especially in unfamiliar areas.

Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. If a stranger approaches with questions about your dog, be cautious with the information you share. 

What to do if your pet is stolen or lost

If you believe that your dog has been stolen, rather than lost, contact the police. Ensure that the incident is recorded as a theft and obtain a crime reference number.

Contact the microchip database that your dog's details are registered with so they can flag that your dog is missing. Double check that your details are up to date. This will help vets, dog wardens or rescue centres get in contact with you quickly and prevent any attempts to change the ownership into new details. 

There are many websites and social media pages for missing animals, for example Dog Lost. Add your dog's details, using the photos you have taken and a crime reference number if applicable.

Inform the local dog warden (find your council's dog warden service here) and also contact vets and rescue centres in the local area.