Dog theft, especially of working dogs, continues to be a huge problem in rural areas. With the increase in popularity of fieldsports comes the increase in demand for trained dogs and thieves see valuable gun dogs as a saleable commodity.
DogLost has stated that almost 50% of its missing dog reports actually relate to working dogs. The most commonly stolen gundogs are cocker and springer spaniels and labradors.
The Key Facts
- A working dog can cost £5,000 when fully trained
- Some 3,500 dogs were reported as stolen during the shooting season in 2014
- 50% of stolen dogs are breeds of gun dog
- Approximately 50,000 dogs per year are officially reported to insurance companies as 'lost'
- There is no legislation for microchip scanning, meaning that dog that have either been found or stolen can be re-homed without their microchip ever being checked
What to do if it happens to you...
When you are out and about
- Never leave your dog unattended.
- If you are in the pub or in a public area don't boast about your dog. You never know who is listening...
- If you have to keep your dog in the car for any period of time, ensure the car is locked.
- Use tinted windows to obscure the view through the rear windows of your vehcile to protect your dogs if they're left in the car whilst you're working.
Review your security at home
- If your dog lives indoors, take the usual principles to ensure safety.
- If kennelled, build your kennel as close to your home as possible.
- Use alarmed padlocks or passive infrared sensors that send text messages to your mobile phone if tampered with.
- Install remote access CCTV, which allows you to regularly check on your dogs from your mobile phone, and security lighting on all outbuildings and kennels.
- Never leave ladders or tools around that can be used by thieves to gain entry.
- Sign up to local and regional neighbourhood watch programmes so you are aware of other local thefts in the area. Make sure to note down the registration numbers of any suspicious looking vehicles.
If you're having a litter of puppies
- Be extra vigilant.
- Don't put signs by the roadside to indicate you have puppies for sale.
- If potential buyers come to see your puppies make sure you have someone with you and show them the puppies one by one.
If your dog is stolen
- All dogs must now, by law, be microchipped, so ensure your details are up to date, report it to Petlog and register the dog's microchip as missing so it will show up when scanned.
- Swift action is a necessity – make sure you call 999 and get a crime reference number. Also contact your Local Council, Dogwarden and RSPCA to alert them should the dog be handed in.
- Talk to neighbours and check with your local community – postal workers, milk men, shop keepers etc.
- Take photos of your dogs from several angles and keep them with your dogs' documents, making sure to document any specific markings or features.
- Use social media to spread the word and let people know what has happened, this can make the dog 'too hot to handle', increasing the chance of it being returned to you. Forums and Facebook groups are good places to post messages, but be aware of hoaxers claiming to know where your dog is if you provide money.
- Keep the police up to date and always allow them to follow up any potential leads.
Remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity via 101 or 999 in an emergency.