An animal is a welcome addition to any family or household, but did you know that here in the UK that pet theft is a genuine issue? Although not something which would ordinarily be at the top of a pet owner’s concerns, unfortunately, it’s a terrible crime which is gaining in popularity. Pets can be stolen for many reasons, including being held as ransom, but they are also sold to pet stores and puppy mills, and even worse, used as bait for dog fights. Only those with a complete lack of empathy can commit such horrific crimes, but a recent survey based on dog owners illustrates that roughly 3 per cent of the total population (1.5 million people) has had their dog stolen and only 20 per cent of those dogs returned home safely.
Whilst we all love to talk about our pets as our adorable and cuddly little friends, we also love to take them for walks and show them off to others. However, it’s never a wise idea to boast about your pet, particularly around people you do not know. For example, pedigree breeds are generally quite expensive, and if sold, can earn a thief a large amount of money. It’s best to not disclose such information to anyone, since at the end of the day, this information is making your pet become a high-priced target. If you are devoted to your pet and treat it like a genuine member of the family, pet thieves will tune into this. Should your dog be stolen, they may hold it ransom for a hefty pay-out, so at all costs, it is best to err on the side of caution and not divulge too much information about your dog’s breeding, its potential value and where you live.
If you are going on holidays and must entrust your dog to a sitter or dog walking service, always ensure you take the time to do a thorough and complete identification check. Any pet service provider will have the necessary permits and approvals required to care for your pet, however, many services could potentially be a front or scam. It is always advised to read reviews and check necessary licenses and accreditations to ensure you are handing your dog over to someone who is honest, reliable and will keep them safe and secure.
Spaying and neutering your pet is a major decision to consider, particularly if you want to prevent unwanted litters. Not only will this operation provide some health benefits to your pet, but will reduce the distance that your pet will roam away from your home. Without this operation, your pet is more likely to head further afield in search of a mate, and at the same time, expand their territory. By venturing far from home, your pet becomes more prone to accident, injury and theft, as they have more difficulty finding their way back home.
Surprisingly, a significant proportion of pet thefts occur at the pet owner’s home. Burglars and thieves are not just interested in high-valued items such as jewellery and technology, but anything which is perceived to be of value. Investing in home security devices can be an effective deterrent for thieves, and should your pet get stolen, can help the police and the authorities track down the abductor. Although no security system is 100 per cent secure, the presence of a security device is often enough to discourage criminals from acting.
Get a Microchip
It isn’t good enough to just have a dog tag these days. An up to date microchip can provide proof of ownership and is now the standard procedure for when shelters and veterinarians receive a lost or injured pet. Each microchip has a unique ID tag which ensures the pet can be identified if it is found alone. If a pet happens to escape from its abductor and is picked up by the authorities or a member of the public, a vet can accurately check the chip and contact the pet’s rightful owner. This is also important if someone falsely claims the pet belongs to them. A simple check of the chip will ensure proof of ownership.
This article was contributed on behalf of Wheldon Law, a criminal solicitors firm in Hertfordshire that specialises in Dog Law and representing dogs accused of anti-social behaviour in court.