How are dogs being stolen – There are a number of tactics dog thieves use, so knowing how they work will help keep your pets safe.
· From a back garden. If you have a low fence near a road and leave your dog unattended, there’s a chance they might become a victim. Don’t assume your garden is safe – the Pet Census revealed that up to 52% of dogs are taken from gardens.
· From a car. A dog left in a car is not only at risk of being stolen, but may also suffer heatstroke and possibly death. We recommend you never leave an animal unattended in a car.
· Dogs left tied in front of businesses and shops. Leaving an animal alone in a public place will increase the chance of it being taken. Without protection, dogs are sitting targets, and if approached with kindness are likely to go along with the stranger because of their friendly nature.
· In the park when they’re out of sight. In a busy park it’s easy to lose sight of your dog, even if only for a moment. This makes parks prime spots for thieves looking to take advantage of the confusion. Keep an eye on your dog at all times.
Preventing your dog from being stolen – There are things you can do to make it harder for them to target your dog.
· Be wary of strangers that ask too many questions. It’s nice to receive compliments about your dog from strangers, however, if they start asking for personal information be cautious.
· Vary your walking patterns. Walking your dog in the same place at the same time every day creates a pattern for thieves to track and plan around. Variety is the key here.
· Microchip your dog. Laws introduced in April of 2016 state that all dogs over the age of 8 weeks have to be microchipped. Although this won’t prevent your dog from being stolen, it will help identify your dog if it’s found.
What to do if your dog is stolen or lost – PawSquad suggest the following top steps:
· Immediately report a missing dog to the microchip databases Petlog, PETtrac and Identibase. They’ll be able to notify you when your pet is found.
· If you believe your dog has been stolen, report the crime to the police and ask for a crime reference number. This will make it easier to find out about the precise nature of their investigation.
· Put up posters in the local area. Familiarising the neighbourhood with your dog will make it more likely to be found by a stranger.
· Register your missing pet on a dedicated website, such as Animal Search UK. Again, this will make it easier for members of the public to find and help return your dog.
· Post on social media to raise awareness, especially any local community groups that can share your post and help spread the news.
· Retrace your steps if your dog went missing during a walk. You may stumble across clues as to where they might have headed.
· Be sure to search common hiding places, surrounding gardens and the local neighbourhood. Ask anyone you see about your dog.
· Check with the council. The government has a handy feature which allows you to search for missing dogs