For many dog parents, the pandemic has meant more time at home with their canine companions. Everyone wanted a dog and the prices went up and up. The kennel club has reported a 168 percent increase in people searching for puppies.
Sadly the criminals looked at those figures and capitalised on this. It's pushed the price of dogs and puppies up in general, which has inadvertently sparked a high rise in dog thefts. There is an explosion in the number of dog thefts since the pandemic, as demand and prices of dogs have surged.
Wayne May from DogLost, an organisation trying to reunite missing dogs with their owners, said: "It’s just as growing a pandemic as COVID itself."
Criminal gangs are targeting homes with dogs, often to use in breeding. Due to the sharp rise in demand for puppies during the pandemic, and the resulting surge in prices, criminals are seeing dog theft as an easy way to make a lot of money. One tragic case was when thieves stole 17 dogs from a kennel in Suffolk. The dogs included six, five-week-old Labrador puppies, seven Lhasa apso puppies and four older dogs.
How to prevent dog theft
Let’s face it! As a dog parent, you are responsible for taking good care of your dog. You could prevent an incident from happening in the first place. Here are some tips to prevent dog theft:
- Secure your yard: Only leave your dog in your yard if it is secure. It’s worth checking fences for gaps and getting gates put in to keep your dog enclosed.
- Don’t leave your dog in your car: If you leave your dog in your car with the windows down then they are easy targets for thieves.
- Report any incidents: If you see any suspicious person who l come up ask strange questions about your dog, simply report it.
- Be wary of strangers: Be wary of strangers who come to your front door, or admire your dog in the park. Do not let them hold your dog or take photos with them. That might be a way to distract you.
- Update your dog's microchip: Make sure your dog is microchipped and that you keep your contact details up-to-date. In case of dog theft, this information will help you to reunite with your furry companion.
- Get anti-theft dog collar, harness and leads: If you'll be outside with your dog, keep him on the leash. Anti-theft dog leads, collars, and harness add the much needed extra layer of safety for dog owners' peace of mind.
Also, train your dog to come back to you on command. This will help if you need to get them to come back to you quickly, if you think they are in danger.
Losing your dog due to theft is a traumatic event. If the worst happens and your dog is stolen, act quickly! Report the loss/theft to the microchip database, your local council’s dog warden, and other neighbouring local authorities.
Do you have any tips to prevent dog theft? Let us know in the comments. We would be happy to hear from you!