The coronavirus pandemic has affected pet ownership in a number of ways. Not only were 80% of vet practices reported to have been forced into offering a ‘significant cut to their services’, but last year was also said to be one of the worst on record for cases of dog theft.
With the periods of lockdown driving up the demand – and prices – for new puppies, a growing number of thieves decided to take advantage, using a variety of methods to tear dogs away from their owners and make a quick buck.
So, with this in mind, we thought we’d compile a quick guide on how to combat dog theft, teaching you a few of the most effective ways to keep you and your pooch safe.
1. Don’t leave them tied up outside
While it may sound fairly obvious, the better you are able to keep an eye on your dog, the less likely it will be that a thief will try and nab them.
Many thieves will wait for owners to slip up, taking their eyes off of their dog before making their move. Therefore, don’t give them that opportunity.
When you go into a shop, for example, either don’t bring your dog with you at all or make sure to leave them outside with a trusted friend or family member.
Don’t simply tie them up and think it’ll be alright to leave them on their own for a couple of minutes – it will only take a matter of seconds for a thief to untie the lead and walk away with your best friend.
2. Make sure they’re microchipped
While there have been some fairly horrible stories circulating lately about how thieves remove microchips from dogs, ensuring they are microchipped is one of the best ways to prevent dog theft.
As bad as it may sound, dog thieves only really look for dogs that are of a certain degree of value. As such, if your dog is a bit older, spayed or is a mongrel, they are less likely to be interested in it, making it more likely they will be either ditched or returned.
Therefore, in the event that your dog does become stolen and dumped later on, having a microchip available is their best chance of getting back to you, as it will allow vets to track down your details through their database.
3. Add your details to their collar
While on the subject of the importance of contact details, adding your phone number to their collar tag is a time-tested way of discouraging dog theft, helping ensure your dog is returned to you should they ever become lost or stolen.
While you may not like to think about it, preparing yourself for the worst-case scenario could help significantly should it ever come to fruition. As such, it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of others.
Imagine you came across a stray dog, for example. The first thing you’d likely do is look at their collar for details, so why not do the same with your own pooch?
Just try to avoid putting your dog’s name on the collar – this could actually help potential thieves, rather than hinder them.
4. Take extra care on walks
It can be all too easy to become overly paranoid about dog theft when out on dog walks but, by staying extra vigilant, you will deter any wannabe thieves.
To do this most effectively, make sure to keep an extra eye on your dog while out on walks. If you let them off the lead, for example, watch for how far ahead of you they run off to and monitor the number of people around, taking extra care during any encounters you have with other ‘interested’ dog walkers.
Similarly, ensure your dog has a good recall, responding well to their name being called while out and about should they run away. The last thing you want, after all, is for your dog to get lost in a crowd of people where they either can’t hear or see you to run back to.
5. Prepare for the worst
In the event that the worst does happen and your dog is stolen, don’t lose hope – there’s every chance you’ll be able to get them back.
The important thing to do is stay calm and act quickly, reporting the loss/theft to the police and any local pet groups. That way, you will be able to utilise the help of others and have more eyes out looking for your pup than just your own.
At the same time, it’s also vital to take photos of your dog regularly. Should they go missing, having an up-to-date image of how they look, their size and any markings they have could make all the difference between them being identified or not.
For further advice on finding a lost pet, click here to read our detailed step-by-step guide.