Dog Theft is rising - what can you do if your dog is stolen in the UK

by Jo Milnes on February 26, 2021

A dog to most of us is part of our family and losing it can be like losing a member of the family.

The theft of a much loved dog can have a devastating effect on the family who have lost that dog and with dog theft on the increase just what can you do to make your dog “too hot to handle”?

Information from a pet theft census completed by More Than Insurance shows that over 50% of dog thefts are from gardens but there are some taken during a break in at home or whilst out walking your dog.

Whilst dog theft is never far from my mind and I’m careful with my own dogs, this serious issue has recently been brought to close for comfort.    Just over a week ago my elderly neighbour met me at my gate extremely upset, his 3 springer spaniels had been stolen from secure kennels behind his bungalow.  These dogs were his life, having tragically lost his son in 1993, they were all the couple had as family.  With them not knowing what to do I immediately said I would help and so followed a very emotional journey trying to help this lovely couple get back their treasured pets.

Reasons for stealing a dog.

In 2013 tighter controls were introduced in the dealing of scrap metal, after which there seems to have been a dramatic increase in dog theft.  The current laws in place for pet theft are very outdated but Home Secretary Priti Pratel is trying to bring tougher measures into force, currently less than 5% of dog thefts result in a criminal conviction.

  • To order – certain breeds are extremely popular such as trained gundogs used for poaching.
  • Ransom – as this practise is generally done without advice from the police there isn’t numbers about this practise but it does happen.
  • Dog Fighting – it’s thought that some dogs could be used as bait for dog fighting or Staffies for fighting or guarding.
  • Selling On – with the price of dogs more than doubling in the last 12 months this is the most lucrative opportunity for thieves, selling dogs on and delivering them to buyers in car parks or motorway services.
  • Breeding – Breeding bitches could be sold on or used by the thief and find themselves miles from home in a “puppy farm” situation to produce puppies for resale.

What to do when you realise that your dog has been stolen

There are several things that you need to do as soon as is possible.

  • Phone 101 and report the theft to the police and get a crime number. A lot of Police Forces do have a Rural Crimes team and we are extremely lucky to have a very proactive team as part of Humberside Police.    
  • Contact your dog’s microchip company and register your dog as stolen.
  • If your dog is insured contact the Insurance Company who may be able to help with poster and possibly a reward.
  • Contact doglost.co.uk and report your dog as stolen. They will need the crime number to be able to register it as stolen. Once you register your dog on their website it automatically produces a poster that you can start to circulate.
  • Take to social media spreading the word as far as you possibly can do. There are a number of Missing dog sites which you will be able to post details on, some of these will be regional and others nationwide. When your dog has been stolen you have no idea which area you need to target so I suggest that you do any local to you then the nationwide ones.  Dog Lost will also start posting their poster as well.

The idea is to make your dog “too hot too handle” but also provide valuable information and contact details should your dog be found.

With the statistics of 46% of dogs still missing after 12 months there is still more work to be done on dog thefts. 

Preventing your dog from being stolen

  • Be vigilant – Report suspicious activites
  • Make sure your house and garden are well fenced and secure.
  • Beware of strangers asking questions about your dog.
  • Avoid routine – consider walking with a friend
  • Don’t leave tied up outside a shop or leave in a car alone.

My own personal experience with my neighbours dogs followed all the usual routes of what to do when your dog is stolen but I added a few other things in.

  • Used a network of contacts to spread the word
  • I contacted local papers and radio to get stories done about the theft. Our local paper Driffield Wolds and Weekly have been very supportive and keep updating their followers & encouraging to keep sharing.
  • Never be frightened to send an email or facebook message to any media contact – from these such messages I’ve had the story featured on Radio Humberside, Radio Lancashire, Look North, local and regional newspapers.
  • Reported to the Rural Crimes Team anything of relevance to them that had been told to me after my posts on facebook. This has helped them with follow up enquiries.
  • Once I had an idea of where the dogs had been taken to I was able to research missing dog pages in those areas and posted their photos there but also looked at other companies such as pet shops/ dog walkers in those areas and asked them to post the photos.

The great news is that the 2 older dogs are now safely home.  Robbie, 14 was found wandering the streets in Wigan and handed in to a vets and traced by his microchip, whilst Jazz, 9, was found by a young man in Preston who’s friend recognised him from 1 of my facebook posts so he contacted me. 

The third dog 2 year old Keedy is still missing but as you can see we are working very hard in the Lancashire area. 

Through all of this the charity Dog Lost UK has been working with me to help get these dogs home.  Dog Lost are a volunteer run organisation helping reunite thousands of missing dogs with their owners every year.  They work totally on donations which keeps it’s services free for devastated owners.

To help raise vital funds to ensure that this service continues for every owner who needs it we are going to donated £1 to Dog Lost UK for our brand new range of natural treat boxes.  

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