In the first of two articles, local dog trainers Colin Spence and Sarah Mcleod-Cerezo discuss how you can reduce the chance of your dog being stolen, an increasing problem yet to become a specific offence
There has been a huge upsurge in the demand for puppies and dogs due to more people being at home and seeking companionship during the pandemic; indeed, the Kennel Club has stated that searches for puppies on their site increased by 168% in 2020.
So, dogs are being stolen to meet the demand for breeding and as family pets. And at the time of writing, dog theft is still not a specific crime (we urge you to sign the petition calling for a change in the law). Further, dog theft has now become organised crime throughout the UK, with some police forces now receiving double the number of reports of dog theft.
Some things you can do to try and reduce the chances of having your dog stolen when out on a walk include:
- Ensure your mobile phone is fully charged and switch on your tracker, so your location can be found if you need to call the police.
- Add the local dog wardens’ number to your contacts. For Redbridge, call 07815 512 833.
- Always carry a personal alarm with you and have it clipped to your treat pouch.
By law, all dogs must be microchipped. Check your dog’s microchip is up to date at the vets, or buy your own scanner so you can check regularly. If the chip has become dislodged and can’t be found, you may not want to take your dog out until this has been rectified, otherwise no one will know who the dog belongs to if stolen or lost.
When a newly acquired puppy or dog is taken to the vets, it is not a legal requirement for the vet to check the microchip, but if you are a new owner, it may be worth asking them to do so to verify the source of your dog is the same as you have been led to believe.
Choose a well-fitted, comfortable collar or harness with suitable lead. Do not personalise the harness with your dog’s name.
Let those you leave at home or a local friend or family member know your planned route and approximate duration of your walk. Choose your routes in advance, seek routes that are well lit, populated and open with no blind corners. Vary your routes. Be visually observant from the moment you leave your home. Note who is around. Is anyone sitting in a car for extended periods with no obvious reason?
Where possible, walk in pairs or in groups (depending on lockdown rules at the time). Two or more people are less approachable by thieves and your dog is less likely to be taken from you physically.