Dog theft has increased by 250% over the time of the pandemic.
Prices have risen by the same percentage for puppies and adult dogs as demand outstrips supply.
The lucrative trade in misery, which the dognappers make millions from with almost total impunity must be recognised as the same as child abduction
The perpetrators of these horrific crimes are aware that the 1968 Theft Act is woefully inadequate as a deterrent.
It has been obvious for years that the act must be revisited and changed to acknowledge how our pets are seen as part of the family and the dramatic effect theft has on the owners.
Just as important any new act must take into consideration how the animals also suffer. I was so incensed by the total lack of accountability regarding pet theft by the government and police, that I started a (1) Dog Theft Petition to change the law. completely and make pet theft a specific stand-alone offence
It needed overhauling dramatically on how pets are perceived, and to do this the UK must recognise their sentience, acknowledging the fact that they also feel sorrow, pain, joy, happiness, loss, and despair.
I am happy to report that almost all I asked for in that massive petition with over 530.000 signatures, has been announced by the Government quite recently.
The only part of the petition they have not announced is the sentencing, which is why I am keeping the petition going until they accept that automatic jail sentencing whatever the circumstances for anyone stealing a domestic pet must be enshrined in law.
See the recent announcements regarding a new stand-alone offence call Pet Abduction and the acceptance that previous laws classing pets as belongings, no more important than a mobile phone or laptop (2) New Law and Sentience Announcement August 2021
I have asked for a minimum of 2 years served for a first offence that means no early release after a year and 5 years served for any further offences. Until that is enshrined I will continue to campaign. In the meantime, I have put together a How to Keep Your Pets Safe.
Protecting Your Dog From Theft
Microchips and Identification:
- Collar and ID Tag this is a legal requirement with a maximum fine of £5000 it also makes sense if your dog is just lost. Put your mobile number on this and postcode and house number or a full address, this is a legal requirement.
- Take a series of photos of your dogs from a number of angles and especially any obvious distinguishing marks. Make sure you have pictures of you with your dog to prove ownership in case someone has bought your dog from the dognappers.
- Make sure your dog is microchipped and if you move update this ASAP put on your mobile number down as this is a number we tend to take with us whereby home numbers tend to change when we move.
- GPS Trackers can be used unfortunately these are good for when the dog has been lost but if t has been stolen the first thing the thieves do is cut off the collar. If they can be made so small as to be inserted into the dog in the future then that would work
Social Media Sites:
- Beware of people you really do not know who may have befriended you asking lots of questions especially about your dogs.
- If you are posting pictures of your dog online either remove the collar or hide or blur out your address on the Tag as people can blow up the image and find your address and therefore your dog.
- If you have bred a litter of puppies be aware that 50% of all dogs stolen are puppies or adolescent dogs. Be careful if you are advertising your puppies online. It may b prudent to have someone with you in case of opportunist thefts.
- You may wish to limit the number of people in any one family viewing your puppies. If a whole family turns up they can cause confusion with kids milling about and then you could be one or more pups down when they leave.
The picture above is of a permanent Travellers site just outside of Ipswitch called the West Meadows site where 83 dogs, some if not all were believed to be stolen were found after 10 hours of search on 20th March 2021, 6 people were arrested.
The National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) made up of 32 crime commissioners and their forces ordered in-depth research into serious and organised crime in the countryside, The resultant research found the traveller community featured prominently in offences such as hare coursing, fly-tipping, farm vehicle theft and poaching. I would probably add dog theft to that list and a few others
That research publication has been delayed though it has been completed, and was due to be published in October 2020. The reason given for the delay was because they are concerned about the backlash from the woke and the traveller community. Conservative MP Peter Bone said: ‘We’ve had problems in the past when police forces have gone soft on certain sections of the community and, as a result, finding out terrible crimes have been carried out.
Isn’t it time that report is published and made available for general scrutiny? We cannot have one law for the mainstream community and another one for minorities that appear to be involved in criminal activities with impunity?
Common Areas for Theft: Over 50% of all dogs thefts are from the home. The majority are from gardens in the main back gardens but also from front gardens. Make sure your garden is secure and no one can enter without your knowledge. Don’t leave your dog unsupervised in the garden.
- 19% are stolen through breaking and entering into your house itself. Consider CCTV both outside and inside the home. Fit pressure alarm pads or burglar alarm systems. Fit a video doorbell,
- If you tie your dog up outside shops or other areas then this accounts for 7% of all reported thefts it is a real no brainer. If you are with your dog then just use shops or cafes that are dog friendly.
- 16% of stolen dogs are taken from owners walking their dogs. Some of these people are attacked and their dogs snatched. Be aware of people approaching and asking you about your dog, and children showing a lot of interestTry to change the places, routes and times you walk the dog so people cannot build a plan to take your dogs.
- Dogs with poor recall make up a large part of 16% of the dogs stolen whilst walking. Remember that puppies and adolescent dogs make up 50% of all dogs stolen. You can teach your puppy or adult dogs a strong recall these are the top two natural searches on recall on Google. (3) Whistle and Recall Training Puppies (4) Junior and Adult Recall Training
- Dogs left in cars make up 5% of all dogs stolen It is not just theft but temperatures even on a cloudy day can quickly cause the dogs t to overheat and die. Opportunist thieves can break into a vehicle in seconds and your dog is gone
- Choose your dog sitter and dog walker carefully, check they are legitimate and have insurance and are knowledgeable do they have a good reputation. I have known of pet sitters, dog walkers and residential dog trainers to sell on dogs that are valuable and then claim they have gone missing or been stolen. I am not suggesting this is common but it happens.
- Keep vigilant at all times if you can pair up with friends to walk your dogs it lessens the risk of an attack and snatch of your dog. You may wish to carry a loud rape alarm type devise if you are targeted by pet snatchers.
If Your Dog Is Stolen
- Always act immediately if you know for certain your pet has been taken. as someone will have a fresh memory and may have seen something that could be of help in recovering the dog.
- Report it to the police. Yes, it is an emergency even if the police, the courts and the emergency services apparently do not see it that way, (5) Woman Fined For Using 999 To Report Stolen Dog. There is nothing trivial about the theft of a dog and the police and emergency services need to understand that. Always insist on a crime number and that the police report it as a stolen dog, not property.
- Contact (5) Dog Lost which is the best of all the charities that help find stolen dogs they list your dog lost and they also list found dogs so this is the place to see if your dog has been found yet. They will help you with posters and getting the theft known far and wide. They can help you moral support and advise who and what to contact. Don’t expect much from the police.
- Report the theft to your Microchip Company who will know if anyone tries to reregister a change of ownership or address. Contact the local council dog wardens and contact local dog-related people like dog walkers, Vets with the pictures, posters and any reward and full details of when and how it happened.
- Post up your posters around where the dog was last seen and in Local Park and dog walking areas asking for any sightings. Get onto social media and post on dog-related websites with clear pictures and distinguishing marks. This may make the dog too hot to handle.
- Contact the local free and paid for papers and magazines telling them to warn others of dognappers in the area. Unfortunately other than Dog Lost there is no national dog theft database Try contacting other local rescue centres and charities with all the details.
- Send details and pictures to your local radio stations and regional and national TV companies some will feature in their streaming blogs or interview you, all of this makes it far more difficult for the thieves to sell on the dog. It makes them too hot to handle.
Common Reasons Dogs are Stolen
- For Ransom or Reward. Owners are willing to pay for their pets return no questions asked
- Blackmail, you will get your dog back if you pay them a large sum of money. or you will never see your dog again.
- Many 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 may in time put an end to puppy farms if we can close our borders. as many are shipped in from many other countries and stolen dogs can also be shipped out of the UK. That law was a long time coming I have campaigned for the last 30 years to ban puppy farms and pet shops selling dogs or cats.
- Dogs are sometimes stolen as bait to be used as practice for the horrific dogfighting gangs. (7) Read Billy’s Story.
©Stan Rawlinson August 2021
(6) Dog Lost