Preventing dog theft

Preventing dog theft

It’s every dog owner’s worst nightmare for their dog to get lost or stolen. But how common is dog theft and what can you do to protect your dog? Read our guide on keeping your pet safe and preventing dog theft. 

Why are dogs stolen?

Puppies are expensive, particularly pure breeds and designer cross breeds. Like anything worth a lot of money, dogs are appealing to criminals. It is believe that dogs are stolen to be sold on to a new owner or used for breeding to produce puppies to sell. 

How many dogs are stolen in the UK?

According to the insurance company, Direct Line, dog theft is on the rise. The latest figures from 2018 recorded 1,959 dogs stolen – which equates to five dog thefts every day.

Is it illegal to steal a dog? 

Under existing law, stealing a dog is treated as theft of property. However, there is a call for dog theft to be classed as a separate criminal offence in England, Wales and Scotland under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Animal Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. The Pet Theft Reform petition has already generated over 100,000 signatures.

How to prevent your dog from being stolen

Start by making sure your dog’s microchip details kept up to date, for example if you move house. 

It is a legal requirement for dogs to be microchipped in the UK. The information contained in a microchip is linked to a national database which holds information about a dog’s registered owner. Microchips cannot be easily removed or tampered with, and can only be updated by the registered owner. 

The British Veterinary Association recommends that vets scan new clients’ dogs at their first visit to check for a microchip and confirm that the details of the registered owner are correct. As a result, a growing number of vets now routinely scan puppies and dogs at their first appointment. A national petition called #FernsLaw is calling for this to be made compulsory to help reunite stolen dogs with their owners.

Whilst microchipping can help with reuniting a lost or stolen dog, there are some extra steps you can take to prevent your dog from being stolen. 

General

  • Take photographs of your dog that could be used as evidence if your dog is stolen. Make sure you take photos of your dog from different angles and capture any distinguishing marks. Include your family in the photographs. 

At home

  • Make sure your garden is secure and your dog isn’t able to escape easily and no one can get in. If your garden is visible from the road, keep an eye on your dog when they are outside. 

Out and about

  • Don’t leave your dog tied up outside a shop or alone in a car – this makes them easy targets for criminals.
  • Make sure your dog always wears a collar and identity tag containing your phone number. This is a legal requirement.
  • Keep your dog within your sight if they are off the lead when you are out walking.

How effective are dog theft tracking devices?

GPS trackers for dogs are becoming increasingly popular with dog owners. They can provide peace of mind that you will be able to easily locate your dog if they become lost. However, they can still be removed by criminals intent on stealing a dog.

What to do if your dog is lost or stolen

In the dreadful event of your dog becoming lost or stolen, here’s what to do.

If you believe your dog has been stolen, contact the police; and report it as a theft, not a lost pet. Make sure you get a crime number. 

Contact the microchipping database where your dog’s details are held so that they can put a flag on your record that your dog is lost or stolen. Your dog will be registered on one of these microchipping databases:

Get in touch with local vets and your local dog warden where your dog may be taken if found. Contact the lost and found pet websites. These are: 

Make posters to display locally; at vets, pet shops, local parks and other public places.

Appeal for help and information through Facebook groups and pages. Social media can help to spread the message about a missing dog fast.

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