The Dramatic Rise In Dogs Thefts UK | Doglistener

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The Dramatic Rise In Dogs Thefts UK

The Dramatic Rise of Dog Thefts In the UK

Pets are not commodities, they are sentient animals, therefore, laws pertaining to them should take into account their capacity to feel emotions such as distress, love, loss, pain and fear, as that is what makes them sentient. I am a dog behaviourist, that campaigns on numerous concerns and issues that have a negative impact on our pets and their owners These concerns range from overvaccination to paediatric neutering, the way the vet industry is changing and some parts of the dog food industry.  Please sign my petition at the end of this article to change the law regarding the theft of our dogs and the fact they feel deep and enduring emotions. Their sentience should be recognised. So should the terrible impact this crime has on the victims both the dogs and their distraught owners and family

Devastating Loss: Other than someone kidnapping my family members, I cannot think of anything more devastating than someone stealing any of my dogs.

I have six dogs 5 working cockers and a miniature dachshund and all have a place deep in my heart, along with all the others that have passed away over the many years I have owned dogs.

The picture on the left is my litter of seven working Cockers with Fizz their mother. In Fifty years of owning and working with dogs, this is the only litter I have ever bred.

The puppy with the white-collar was the one I kept called Gunner and he is the face of the campaign I am launching to change the law on dog theft. I want our politicians to stop skirting around the subject and accept that dogs are not just property or a commodity they are sentient animals with deep feelings and emotions.

Why would I want to put a litter of 1-day old puppies in an article about dog theft?, Simple, in a robbery last year a litter of eight one-day-old French Bulldog puppies were stolen at knifepoint from the pregnant owner in her own home. They were dumped outside of a Vets the next day.

Unfortunately, six of them died. It not clear whether they were returned because of the wide publicity or a reward of £10,000 was claimed. I can currently find no reports of the perpetrators being apprehended or charged. However,  if someone could correct me I will change that statement. I will not hold my breath (1) Litter of  French Bulldogs Stolen.

As it happens the litter in the picture above were mine born in 2017. They were the very first litter of puppies I had ever bred in 48 years of working with dogs and 68 years of living with them. I was bought my first puppy at 4 years old.

The litter above are Working Cockers and to make sure they had the best start in life I had over 100 people visit and handle them before they were 7 weeks of age. The included children daily If you want to breed then take it seriously, and give them the best start in life. I believe all breeders should have to take a course in the requirements to breed a litter

Is This a Recent Phenomenon?: Unfortunately, dog theft has been with us for centuries. It was noted by Charles Dickens that criminals were stealing dogs to ransom them back to their owners. It was mainly rich people that owned dogs in Dickens time nearly two hundred years ago. We now have over 8 million dogs a similar amount of cats in the UK and 50% of households own a pet.

The Impact of Dog Theft:: Many thousands of people go through the shock and despair of having their pets taken from them by criminals, Alarming statistics show that over the last four years dog thefts have increased every single year,

Statistics show that the number of dogs officially reported stolen in the UK is five every day. However, I believe that figure is just the tip of the iceberg. People may have lost confidence in our police, though in this case, the unfortunate reality is the law regards dogs as property, in exactly the same way as a bike or mobile phone, meaning criminals often walk free from a court or get a small fine.

Reporting Structure: The other reason is that police forces record this crime differently across the country.

Pet thefts are often categorised as robbery or burglary without mentioning that dogs were stolen just that property was stolen, hiding the true extent of the problem.

In quite a number of cases, whole litters of puppies are stolen, this is often logged as just 1 theft. 

This is big business for the organised gangs that are part of the epidemic in pet thefts, the terrible irony is it is being treated as just petty theft.

I believe that is unbelievably frustrating and also heartbreaking! 

Three weeks ago a litter of Staffy puppies was snatched from a house in Manchester The five-week-old puppies were shoved into carrier bags and their mother was slashed in the face with a machete when she tried to defend them. Fortunately, the perpetrators were caught and the puppies returned unharmed. They were lucky this time

I  believe that potentially 50 dogs a day are stolen. Sadly, only one in five dogs is reunited with its owner, leaving 80% mourning the loss of their pet for many years.

Because of either apathy or time constraints in our police and judicial system, dog thefts are not being officially reported. Instead, the frantic owners are turning to pet detective agencies, and online groups like the fantastic (2) Dog Lost. Which is a free donation led organisation that helps thousands of pets to be reunited with their distraught owners?

Organised Gangs: Dogs have been reported stolen from homes, cars and outside of shops and of course on walks and from gardens, people have been held at knifepoint whilst the dogs have been snatched. 

There are organised gangs that drive around parks and streets looking for vulnerable people and dogs. Many dogs are stolen from front or back gardens. If a dog is off the lead dognappers can lure them with food towards bushes before clipping on a lead or looping a slip lead over their heads. I teach all my dogs not to take food off strangers unless they are given a specific command This is how? (3) The Jingler “OFF” Command

Gangs have been observed marking homes that have pets using chalk markings on nearby curbs or on the house itself. The marks can be letters or just symbols. Therefore it is worth keeping an eye for any suspicious new marks near your property.

Statistics published in 2018 state that London has the highest amount of reported thefts with 304 officially reported. Remember the actual figures may run into thousands because of the law and false reporting .

Why Are Dogs Stolen?: 

  • Many are snatched by the dognappers, who then wait for a reward to be posted. They then claim the reward giving back the dog they had actually stolen,
  • Blackmail, you will get your dog back if you pay them a ransom.
  • Some dogs are stolen to order to be resold to an unsuspecting or even a knowing buyer.
  • Females that are stolen to be bred from year after year. Fortunately, recent changes to the law on the sale of dogs will in time put an end to puppy mills.
  • That law was a long time coming I have campaigned for the last 30 years to ban puppy farms and pet shops selling dogs.
  • This does not bear thinking about but the breed that is stolen the most is the Staffie. They are used as bait dogs or just fought until they die. Any dog could be used by the sadistic dogfighting fraternity. How anyone could get pleasure in seeing a dog been torn apart is beyond my comprehension. Sick deluded individuals. 
  • Dogfighting is still legal in parts of  Russia and Japan, It was banned in the UK in 1835 and has been outlawed in most of the rest world. Dog fights are held openly in parts of Latin America, Pakistan and Eastern Europe, and has gone underground in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. In Afghanistan, dogfighting has seen a resurgence, after almost disappearing under the Taliban who outlawed the sport to prevent gambling. Animal cruelty arguments don't carry much weight in Afghanistan, where dogfighting is a big business and a source of income for the owners of champion dogs.
  • Another reason dogs are snatched is to sell to medical testing facilities for testing and vivisection, this area could be stopped by a simple change in the law that stipulates no dog can be sold without a vets letter stating the seller is the owner of the dog and stating the microchip number and no dog could be sold without a microchip. Fines for dogs without microchips should be a minimum of a thousand pounds.

Recall Training: One of the main reasons dogs are snatched by dognappers and criminals or go missing is poor recall training. Some people findings your dogs alone may not want to return for either financial reasons or dogfighting or they just like the look of your dog. All dogs can be taught a reliable recall. Obviously the best time to teach this is when they are puppies. However, if you have a junior or an adult dog then help is at hand. (4) Recall Training Puppies or (5) Recall Training Junior or Adult Dogs

We Need a Change in The Law: Dogs are not property, they are a deeply loved member of our family, it is a tragedy if your dog is stolen it is an inconvenience if your phone is nicked; it does not have the deep emotional effect the loss of your pet causes. We need a change in the law and we need it now. Parliament discussed a review to the law in July 2018 but rejected any changes to the current law pertaining to dog thefts. I fervently believe that animal theft should be a crime in its own right. The law should and must reflect the impact the crime has on the victims. Dogs are sentient beings, not inanimate objects.

However, with turbulent times in our government and parliament, I believe it is time to reignite the argument for a radical rethink on the current weak and pitiful laws pertaining to dog theft To this end I have started a petition asking for the law to be changed to make it a specific criminal offence to steal a pet and the sentence should be harsh and should reflect the anguish and distress it causes to the pets and the owners. Pet theft rips the heart out of families and wrecks lives. The law must reflect the enormous impact this crime has on the victims.

I tried hard to get onto the Government website they took three weeks to say they rejected my petition. In those three weeks, I could have put my petition to change .org. I wrote to them and complained about their communication skills. Guess what? They did not communicate back, remind you of anyone?  I, therefore, started my petition on

Just a quick update as of today 1st October 2019 the petition has 338,854  signatures and is expected to go higher. Thanks to the tremendous effort of those that love their dogs and people that are behind

Please click on the link to sign and more importantly share the petition far and wide.
Change The Law On Pet Theft See below for further information

7th August  2019
 Updated 21st April 2020

©Stan Rawlinson Doglistener
Dog Behaviourist and Obedience Trainer

and owner of The Dog Store Sheen

My Thanks to Dougal's Army for the poster

(1) Litter of  French Bulldogs Stolen

(2) Dog Lost

(3) The Jingler “OFF” Command

(4) Recall Training Puppies

(5) Recall Training Junior or Adult Dogs

Other Reading

(6) Why Are Our Dogs Dying 11% Earlier ThanTen Years ago

(7) Ethical and Totally Natural Air Dried  Dog Treats

(8) Neutering Dogs The Very Real Dangers

(9) Sign Up For my Informative Newsletters




I wonder if the veterinary profession would be opposed to a change in the legal status of dogs because it could lead to more litigation for malpractice, including for example, massive over-vaccination. On the other hand the legal profession would welcome it. Then it would be a matter of who had the strongest lobbying influence with politicians. Would an approach to the relevant institutions of the legal profession be worthwhile?

Stan Rawlinson's picture

A Very thought-provoking comment and i will look into it. It also may impact on the neutering of dogs at such a young age. As well as the massive overvaccination

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