Criminals are said to have been targeting more expensive breeds of dog for illegal puppy farming, serving the growth in demand for dogs that has occurred since the first Covid lockdown.
Over 80 stolen dogs were seized by police in a recent raid in Suffolk in March.
There have been reports of individuals allegedly trying to drag dogs away from their owners in the street and a new government task force has been set up to address the concern.
PCSO Sarah Lingard of Lincolnshire Police has offered top tips for owners on how to keep your pooch safe when out and at home.
She says: “Ensure your dog is chipped and if the worst happens, report it to the microchip database.
“Act quickly and report it to the police – use 999 if the theft is in progress or 101 if it is after the event. Also ensure you report any theft to the council dog warden and local vets in case the dog is taken in for treatment.
“The Blue Cross offer a free and confidential pet bereavement service and can be contacted on 0800 096 6606 or [email protected]”
When at home -
Don’t leave your dog unattended in the garden, especially if you can’t see it from the house.
Ensure your garden is secure and lock gates. Fit a bell to the gate to alert you of someone entering your property.
CCTV and doorbell cameras may help to deter dog thieves.
Out and about -
Walk in pairs when possible and don’t be distracted by your mobile phone.
Keep to busy streets and parks.
Beware of slow moving vehicles taking an interest in your dog and strangers asking questions.
Never leave your dog tied up outside a shop.
Never leave your dog in a car - not only is the dog at risk of overheating, a thief can be in and out of a vehicle with your pet in very little time.
Don’t let your dog off the lead if you don’t think it will come back - consider a pet GPS which attaches to its lead.
Social media -
Avoid putting too much information about your dog, such as where you live and work. Keep privacy settings in mind.
If you’re visiting a new place, wait until you’re home to tag locations.
When posting pictures, be sure to blur out any identification tags.
Remain suspicious of strangers asking lots of questions online.
Other things to consider -
Neutering. Many dosg are stolen for breeding purposes. Neutering your dog may deter these types of criminals and has a number of other health benefits as well as reducing the likelihood of roaming.
If you breed puppies for sale, take great care when inviting people in to view; have someone else present, limit the numbers of people you allow in at a time and use one secure area.
Discuss who would own the dog in the event of bereavement or break up and draw up documentation to this effect. Pets can become the centre of ownership disputes in these circumstances.