Dog theft is an ongoing issue that has seen a dramatic rise in the number reported incidents up and down the country. With the demand for dogs skyrocketing this time last year as the country went into a nationwide lockdown, and keeping at a steady level ever since, dog theft has become an increasingly prevalent and worrying issue for many.
As we finally head towards an air of normality, it has been pointed out by many organisations – including ourselves – that dogs must be ready for the countryside. Keeping dogs on leads is incredibly important when in rural areas for the safety of livestock and dogs alike. More recently however, it is becoming increasingly important to keep them on leads to prevent them from being taken right in front of us, which a flurry of reports of ‘attempted dog thefts’ have told of in the news recently. For example, in a story that the Countryside Alliance’s press office shared, a police warning which was issued about dog thieves posing as RSPCA officers and convincing unsuspecting dog owners that their own dogs matched the descriptions of stolen ones.
The brazenness of dog thieves only continues to grow, so we urge the public to be vigilant, keeping a watchful eye on dogs, making sure that you’re switched on to your surroundings and who is around you, whether in a rural area or not. If you’re suspicious of someone, put your dog back on it’s lead. This piece of advice also goes for gun dog owners. Whilst we take pride in the fact that a lead often doesn’t need to be used, it is handy to have one in case you need to use it, purely for the safety and security of your dog.
Information on any suspicious activity surrounding subjects like this can often be found on local groups or pages on social media sites like Facebook, so keep an eye out for anything posted on online noticeboards that could be relevant to your area.
Millin Brook Luxury Dog Boarding, a finalist in our 2020 Countryside Alliance Awards, has been doing some excellent work regarding dog theft, with the owner using knowledge from her 20 years-experience as a police officer to create a successful and informative social media campaign on the issue. You can view, download and share posters offering dog theft prevention advice for when you’re at home, in public areas, and for ‘if the worst happens’, here.
Dogs play a huge part in our lives, whether they are domestic pets or working dogs and whilst charities such as Pet Theft UK work hard towards tougher pet theft measures, there are always precautions that we can take to keep them as safe as possible. For more information on what to do if this happens to you, take a look at the dedicated ‘Dog Theft’ section of our Rural Crime Hub.