An increasingly prominent problem within the companion animal world is pet theft, kidnapping and sometimes trafficking of cats and dogs. Here in the U.K this topic is gaining more interest and discussion from all walks of life ranging from tiny animal welfare charities to the mainstream media. Today we are going to discuss this extremely pressing subject matter.
Although it is widely known that the theft of cats and more commonly, dogs, is increasing each year; there are no collative statistics that can determine an exact number. As a result, organisations such as The Kennel Club and Dog Theft Action are working together with the police nationwide to try and ascertain the precise number of dog thefts that have been reported each year.
Why would pets be stolen?
There a few reasons for why a pet can be stolen. It is thought that the major reason is for financial gain. Thieves will kidnap cats and dogs in the hope that a ransom demand will be met for the safe return of the pet. Most people consider their pet to be a part of their family and so are more than willing to pay the kidnapper the ransom. Another way in which a thief can benefit financially from stealing a person’s pet is by targeting an expensive breed. If the cat or dog has not been altered then it will give the said thief an opportunity to breed and produce a litter of potential money-making cats or dogs.Even more sinisterly, some specific dog types (such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers) are being taken and forced in to a life of brutal dog fighting with the aim of gaining a profit from bets made on such fights. Some thieves may even steal a pet in the hope that reward money will be offered which they can then cash in on by pretending to have found the pet.
When discussing this topic it is essential to note that there are varying safety precautions that can be taken by pet owners. Let’s continue to talk more specifically about dogs. A canine should always be wearing a collar and ID tag detailing the owner’s name, address (including full postcode) and telephone number. Every dog should have a microchip as it means that they will be permanently identifiable and it is advised that the microchip should be checked by the owner’s vet every year. In addition, all documents that are related to the dog should be kept in a safe place along with clear photographs of the dog from varying angles.
Vigilance is vital in making sure a dog does not become a potential target for thieves. A dog should be trained not to go out of the owner’s sight when on walks; if the dog doesn’t comply then using a lead with a long extension can be a good idea. Dog owners should also be wary of strangers taking too much of an interest in their dog and not give out too many details about the dog if asked. This also applies if a stranger asks to have their photo taken with the dog. If an owner is selling a puppy or dog then they should restrict the amount of people who are allowed into their home to view the pup or dog and also what the potential buyers are allowed to view.
Owners of dogs should check their garden and property fences regularly for any damage that might allow a thief to gain access to the dog. The upkeep of a fence can be the difference between a safe pet and a stolen pet. An alarm or bell should be fitted to any property gate or fence so that the resident knows when someone (whether that be a visitor or a thief) has entered their property.
One of the benefits for all of our insurance policies here at Animal Friends is to help to deal with the loss and theft of a pet. We will help pay towards the advertising and reward for a lost pet and our various polices all offer some cover if a pet is not found. Money raised from our insurance work is given extensively to animal welfare charities and so we experience and see how horrible it is for a pet to be apart from its owner.
We cannot stress enough the importance of being cautious when it comes to owners protecting their pets, more specifically with dogs. Under no circumstances should a dog be left on its own in public, even if its lead is tied to something. The same can be said for leaving a dog in a car on its own. Both these actions present opportunities for potential thieves and should be avoided at all costs.
There are lots of people and organisations that can be contacted for help should an owner lose their pet. These organisations dedicate their lives to cause of finding/locating lost pets and reuniting them with their owners. Such people include DogLost, RSPCA, Animal Search U.K, Cats Protection and Dog’s Trust. The local dog warden can also be of great aid and can be contacted via the local council, local vet, animal centres and the police force.