Thousands of dogs are lost every year, many as a result of theft, and even the most reliable and well-cared for dog can get lost or stolen. Dog theft has been attributed to two broad motives - breeding and ransom.
How to prevent dog theft
- Make sure that your dog wears a collar and identification (ID) tag when in a public place. Include your surname, telephone number, address and full postcode – if there's room put 'microchipped' on the tag if your dog has a chip.
- Microchip your dog so that it is permanently identifiable should the collar and ID tag be removed.
- Do not leave your dog tied up outside a shop or unattended in a car.
- Keep all documentation relating to your dog in a safe place, and include clear photos of front and side profiles of your dog. Also make a note of any unusual markings.
- Make sure that your dog does not go out of your sight on walks. Vary your walk times and routes.
- Be cautious when you invite people into your home to view dogs or puppies for sale. Restrict the number of visitors and their access, and always have someone with you.
- Make sure that your dog is neutered as this will reduce the chances of theft for breeding.
- Make sure that your fencing is adequate and check it regularly for wear and tear. Keep your dog in view when it goes out into the garden.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) recommends that the best way to make sure a lost or stolen pet is found is to have the pet microchipped.
- This is a simple injection of a tiny microchip the size of a grain of rice which is painlessly inserted under the animal's skin. The microchip then permanently links the dog to its owner, increasing the chances of them being reunited if the animal is lost, stolen or strays.
- The microchip contains the owner's details and is put on the national PetLog database.
- If a lost or stolen microchipped dog is found, this information will be revealed by passing a scanner over the microchip, and allow the dog to be reunited with its owner.
Micro chipping prices vary but a one-off payment of around £20.00 will get your pet on to the PetLog database for life. Owner details can be quickly amended if any details change.
To micro chip your pet:
- Contact your local RSPCA branch or veterinary surgeon for advice.
- Call 0870 606 6751 for more information about joining PetLog.
- Visit the RSPCA website (opens new window) or call the RSPCA advice line: 0300 1234 555.
Dog theft action scheme
Thames Valley’s Dog Theft Alert scheme sends email alerts with details about stolen dogs and incidents of note to its members. The scheme is similar to Neighbourhood Watch but for a more specific audience. Its current members include dog wardens, websites dedicated to finding stolen pets, dog welfare and re-homing centres such as the RSPCA and Blue Cross as well as interested members of the public. For further information, email Jackie Murdock.