As a responsible dog parent, it’s important to know how to help keep your pup safe from potential theft. Let’s take a look at why dogs are stolen, how you can protect them, and what to do if they go missing.
Dogs may be stolen:
Information found by the Pet Theft Taskforce suggests that a large amount of dog theft is carried out by Organised Crime Groups (OGCs).
According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), around 2,000 dogs were reported stolen in England and Wales in 2020.
Dogs are often reported to be stolen from homes, mainly from outbuildings and gardens.
Changing trends in breed popularity and where you live in the UK can affect which dogs are seen as more desirable targets by thieves.
A November 2022 ADT report worked with police forces to collect information on pet theft over the previous five years. From the responses received, the report found that the top breeds reported stolen were:
But things are going a step further for animal welfare. Following a recommendation in the Pet Theft Taskforce report, the government added a pet abduction offence to the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill. It asks for pets to be seen as sentient beings and not just property, taking into account the emotional distress caused by theft.
This offence means that taking a pet ‘without lawful authority or reasonable excuse’ would result in a fine or imprisonment of up to five years.
It’s the law in the UK to get your dog microchipped, and one of the reasons it was introduced was to help reunite owners with their pups if they go missing.
As a responsible pet parent, you’ve hopefully already got this one covered. Remember to keep your dog’s microchip details up to date so that you can be easily contacted if your dog is found.
Having an ID tag on your dog’s collar or harness is also a UK dog law.
Check that your dog’s ID tag includes your name and address to give your dog’s rescuers an easy way to reach you.
There’s currently 16 microchipping databases which are compliant with The Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015.
Unless your dog’s records are held in a database which meets government standards, they’re not seen as microchipped. It can also be harder to flag and find your dog if they’re stolen.
The government website has a list of compliant microchipping databases.
You can pick up a range of dog theft prevention devices online and in pet stores. Remember to do your research on their effectiveness and be wary of whether they can be easily removed by thieves.
Keeping recent pictures of your dog can help make it easier to identify them if they go missing.
Remember to get close-up images of any unique patterns or markings they might have.
Thieves are opportunists, so be wary of tying them up outside a shop/restaurant or leaving them in the car.
This is also dangerous during hotter days as dogs can easily overheat in the car.
Be careful of who can see your social accounts and about tagging your location when uploading pictures of your pup.
Potential thieves may be able to find out the area where you live, go for walks, and spend time outdoors with your dog.
Knowing your pup will come back to you when called can give you more confidence out on walks.
Follow these top tips from an expert dog behaviourist on how to teach your dog recall.
Instead of sticking to the same walking routine with your dog, try mixing it up each time.
Staying alert and aware out on walks can help you spot people acting suspiciously nearby.
Going on walks with other dog owners can also make you feel more comfortable and confident.
Joining local online pet groups and forums can keep you up to date with news in your area. This includes any reports of suspicious behaviour from potential dog thieves.
Having high fencing and a lockable gate can help to deter thieves from trying to take your dog from the garden.
You can also install home security systems like video cameras and security floodlights.
Always check that your pup is in safe hands if leaving them with friends, family, or professionals.
Look at reviews of dog sitters and walkers before committing and don’t be afraid to ask for proof of insurance.
If your dog goes missing and you think they’ve been stolen, try not to panic.
Once you’ve gone to the police, here’s who else to contact:
You could also print off missing dog posters (with pictures, details of what happened, and your crime reference number) and put these up around your local area.
Some providers cover missing pets as standard, while others offer this as an optional add-on.
Check your policy wording carefully to see if you’re covered and what conditions you need to follow.
Petsure dog insurance gives you the choice of adding missing pet cover to your policy. So you only ever pay for what your pup needs.