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How to protect your dog from being stolen

04/01/2024

During the pandemic, it seemed like everyone was getting a puppy. Time spent at home and a lack of activities (apart from going outdoors) bred the perfect environment for nurturing a pet. Prices for an attractive pup then soared.

As a result of this, criminals saw an opportunity to make money from stealing and selling a cute or desirable dog.[1]

Dog theft is a growing concern, especially for owners of high-value breeds. In 2020, dog thefts increased by 170%, though thankfully the numbers have declined in 2023[2]. Breeds that were seen as prime targets were:

  • American Bull dogs
  • French Bulldogs
  • Chihuahuas
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Jack Russell’s [3].

Despite the drop in thefts, we should all still be on guard for anyone looking to take our furry friends.

Why do people steal dogs?

Money is the simplest answer to this question. How thieves get this money can differ. Sometimes they will breed the dog and sell the puppies. They might simply sell the dog to an unknowing buyer, or they might hold it for ransom and demand money in exchange for you getting your dog back.

As pet owners, it’s our duty to safeguard our companions. Not just because we love them, but because these criminals have no regard for the wellbeing or happiness of the dogs they steal. Here are practical tips on how to protect your dog from being stolen.

Microchipping

Veterinarian checking microchip implant under Rhodesian ridgeback dog puppy skin in vet clinic, scanner device close up

Microchips are a legal requirement to owning a dog in the UK. Owners that fail to do this by the time the dog is 8 weeks old could be fined up to £500 [4]. The device, similar in size to a grain of rice, holds a unique ID. Vets, dog shelters and dog wardens can use a scanner to read the unique ID and trace your pet back to you.

Microchips can deter thieves, knowing dogs can be easily identified. This is why it’s important to regularly keep your contact details updated on the microchip for a safe return if the worst was to happen. 


Home and Outdoor Safety Measures

A tan Airedale Terrier with black markings being walked on a purple lease by a male wearing denim jeans  down a path surrounded by greenery.

Other good ways of deterring thieves to protect your pet in and outside the house include:

Securing the garden: Make sure you have a secure garden, this means having sturdy fencing, locks on any gates and high enough fencing to stop your dog getting out over it or anyone else leaning over and taking them.

Using a GPS tracker: You can pick up a GPS tag fairly cheaply and attach it to your dog’s collar. If they should go missing you can easily find out where they are on your computer or phone app.

Varying your walks: A lot of us like a routine, we feel comfortable walking our dog at the same time and place daily. However, it can pay to switch it up! Many thieves watch out for people routinely walking their dog so they can plan to take them, especially if the dog is off lead.

Being aware of strangers: Be cautious if someone asks too many questions about you or dog, especially things like how much you paid for them or if they are microchipped.

Investing in pet cameras: Investing in pet cams to keep an eye on your pet when you’re not home. With some cameras you can speak to your dog and even give them treats. They can also notify you if movement is detected, making these cameras a perfect deterrent for thieves.

Never leaving your dog unattended: You wouldn’t leave your child in the car alone while you go into the shops – especially not tied up outside the shop! If you leave your dog unattended, it can take seconds for someone to grab them, so even if they’re in a park or in the front garden you should always keep a close eye on them.

Taking out Pet Insurance: With rising theft cases, Pet Insurance provides peace of mind to owners. It’s not just about covering your pets’ medical needs – some policies will pay out in the event of theft. This helps you pay for things like advertising costs for a lost pet, and could even pay out reward money for their return. This means if the unthinkable happens, you should have the resources to make every effort to get them back.

Make sure you’re covered in the event of dog theft with pet insuranceget a quote today.

My dogs been stolen, what do I do?

A close up of a Lost dog poster with an image of the dog and the words "Substantial Reward". In the back ground a man and a woman are looking for a missing pet, putting up posters.

If you believe your dog has been stolen, there are a few things you can do. This includes:

Reporting immediately: Notify the police and the microchip database, as soon as possible.

Spreading the word: Use social media and local noticeboards to get your dog’s image out there. Look for Facebook pages for your local area and specifically for lost dogs. Ask people to share your post to spread the word. Many people also print out missing flyers and put them up in the local area for others to see. The more mediums you use, the more likely it is someone might see it and contact you.

Checking shelters: Visit nearby shelters, rescue centres and vets. If your dog is found, someone may take them to one of these places to keep them safe.

While dog theft is a real threat, taking these easy methods can significantly reduce the risk of your dog being stolen. Prioritise the safety of your four-legged friends and make thieves think twice before attempting to snatch your beloved pets.

Remember, one of the best ways you can care for your pet is with Pet Insurance.

Perfect Pet Insurance includes coverage for Theft across all policy types (excluding accident only plans) which have different benefit limits based on the specific policy.

Get a quote today


[1] https://www.bluecross.org.uk/advice/dog/wellbeing-and-care/how-to-protect-against-dog-theft

[2] 8 UK Dognapping & Dog Theft Statistics to Know in 2023 | Pet Keen

[3] https://www.met.police.uk/cy-GB/SysSiteAssets/foi-media/metropolitan-police/disclosure_2023/january_2023/recorded-incidents-theft-dogs-breed-2022.xlsx

[4] Get your dog or cat microchipped – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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