Here in the UK, pet theft is – unfortunately - becoming an ever-growing issue. A recent survey amongst dog owners revealed that approximately 3% of the total population has had their dog stolen, with only 20% of these stolen dogs returning home safely.
Pets can be stolen for many reasons, including monetary demands for desirable pedigree breeds, but they are also sold to pet shops and breeders. In some instances, they are also used as bait for dog fights.
Our 5 simple tips will help to protect your precious pet from theft, ensuring you can rest easily.
Microchip your pet
It isn’t good enough to just have a dog tag or cat disc these days, as the law now requires that dogs are microchipped. You are legally entitled to ensure your dog is fitted with a microchip by the time it’s 8 weeks old and you can be fined £500 if your dog is not microchipped. The microchip must be fitted by a trained professional such as a vet and some animal charities will microchip your pet for free. Your dog’s microchip is given a number, which will show up whenever your dog is scanned. Your contact details will be registered alongside this number, so you can be contacted should your pet be recovered from a theft or disappearance.
You’re responsible for keeping your pet’s microchip information up to date, for example if you move house. Ensure you contact the database company your pet is registered with to update any of your details. You may be charged for updating your pet’s microchip information.
Your dog must still wear a collar and tag showing your name and contact details when in a public place. Before you buy a puppy or dog, you should ask for proof that the animal has been microchipped. Request the microchip certificate, past passport or vet records, which will show this information. You can ask to have the number scanned by a vet or animal sanctuary to ensure the dog is not registered to anyone else.
Don’t show off online
We love to share photos and videos of our puppy or kitten on social media, but this can be detrimental to their safety. With pedigree breeds in particular at high risk of theft by opportunist thieves, sharing details of the breed of your pet and your movements online is not wise as your home and pet could be targeted when you are out of the house.
Also beware of anyone acting suspiciously when you take your dog out for a walk, as you could be a target for theft. Selling pedigree dogs on for breeding or to be kept as pets is a profitable business, so ensure you keep a close eye on your dog when you are out in public.
Always check ID and references
If you are heading off on holiday or you work long hours, you’re likely to need the services of a dog sitter or walking service. Before you leave your dog with anyone, do a thorough check of their ID and ideally ask to see references from other clients.
Always look for a company or individual with the correct industry accreditation and qualifications to ensure your pet is in safe hands whilst you’re away from them. This should also apply to groomers and puppy trainers.
Spaying and neutering your pet is a sensible decision to make if you want to prevent unwanted litters. The process can also reduce the distance that your cat will roam away from your home in search of a mate, Without this procedure, they are more likely to head further afield, expanding their territory. By venturing further from home, your pet becomes more prone to accident, injury and theft, as they may have more difficulty finding their way back home.
A significant proportion of pet thefts occur at your own home. Thieves are interested in any item of high-value, whether that is cash, jewellery and technology, or your pedigree pet. Investing in sufficient home security devices such as CCTV and security lighting can be an effective deterrent for thieves and should your pet get stolen, may assist the police in identifying the track down the individual. Although no security system is 100 per cent secure, the presence of a security device at your home is often enough to discourage criminals from targeting you.