As Covid-19 has slowed our lives down, it has allowed for many to understand what it is they want and need in their lives, and animals are at the forefront of this.

Twenty-twenty was the year that saw so many new dogs welcomed into family homes across the UK, and the trend is set to continue. With Covid-19 changing the way we work and live our day to day lives, many have sought the beneficial companionship of a dog.

Unfortunately, common thieves have caught on to this boom in ownership and are determined to make a profit from it.

To further add to the melting pot of issues  

  • Breeders have not helped the situation, by hiking up their prices of puppies. Which have increased as much as by 75%
  • In the eyes of current UK law, dogs are categorised as property, the same as your mobile phone. This makes the theft of dogs come under the category of petty theft, and police are limited in what they can do

The stark numbers are that dog theft has increased by 250% in the UK, and it is a terrifying prospect to think that your dog could be stolen. It feels like a lot to worry about, especially on top of everything else going on at the moment.

However, being prepared and taking some initial steps to safeguard you and your dog will help you feel more in control of things.

How are common thieves stealing dogs?

  • Targeted theft, where they have scouted them out and about. Thieves will go to parks, talk to people and take photos of dogs
  • From outside shops and inside parked cars
  • Directly from people on the street or in a park

What to do about it?

  • Firstly, start to think about and visualise how you want to handle the situation should it come up
  • As a trained lifeguard I practiced over and over again emergency scenarios as part of my annual qualifications. And it was through this practice that I was able to feel a sense of being prepared and feeling calm when a real-life rescue situation arose
  • Do you want to be assertive and carry a deterrent spray with you?
  • Will you be prepared to make a noise through screaming? Or would you prefer to carry a whistle?
  • Is your dog a runner or a lover? How will they handle being approached by a stranger with treats and compliments?

Preventative Measures

There are many things you can do now to feel more prepared and to help you and your dog to be safer

  • Make sure their micro-chip address is up to date, and that they have a tag and a collar on them at all times
  • Do not use specific geotags on social media, go for the city or county options
  • Be careful how much of the inside or outside of your property you show off on social media
  • Do not show off your dog in the window at home
  • Walk with someone else, or make sure you engage with other people out with their dogs
  • Start to build up a network of people in your area who can help and support if you are walking alone and feel threatened
  • Stay vigilant and pay attention to your instincts. If your gut is telling you something is not right, it most likely is not
  • If you have a dog like mine who loves to say hello to everyone, be prepared to put them back on lead and to have a strong recall in place
  • Be wary of people who ask too many questions about your dog, they could be gathering information
  • Vary the routes and times that you walk, do not give thieves a regular routine to hook on to

 What to do if your dog is lost or stolen

  • Report your dog to the microchip database, they will get in touch with you if your dog has been found
  • Let all pet shops, groomers and vets in your area know that your dog is missing
  • Share far and wide on social media, ask others to share. Engage with community groups to reach larger numbers
  • If stolen, report the crime to the police via 101 and ask for a crime reference number
  • Put up posters around your local and surrounding areas, to help others to keep an eye out!
  • Register your missing pet on dedicated websites Animal Search UK or Pets Reunited

And please feel free to get in touch with us at Hampstead Hounds and we will help spread the word. We have already helped to reunite lost and stolen dogs with their owners via our strong local network, and are happy to continue helping.

Featured image:  Christiana Hines, Founder Hampstead Hounds, London. Christiana is a fully qualified dog trainer.