Our dogs really have been our best friends staying right by our sides throughout this pandemic. Assuring that those of us who live alone combat isolation, keeping us active by making sure we leave the house for our daily walk, lifting our spirits with one look into those soulful eyes. Us Brits love our dogs, we knew staying home would be better with a dog. Research shows that a staggering 3 million UK households bought a puppy during lockdown.
Unfortunately, this rising demand for puppies has outstripped the supply creating an ideal opportunity for criminals as the price for a pedigree pup keeps going up.
Back in 2019 we were relieved to know that the stats on dog theft were down by 23%, but in 2020 everything changed and the percentage of dogs being stolen shot up by an alarming 250%.
Not enough puppies to go around has tripled their cost: a Cocker spaniel puppy cost £500 before the pandemic, now you’ll spend upwards of £2000 to secure yourself this sought-after pup. These high prices have inspired criminal gangs to leave car theft and drugs to dabble instead in the lucrative world of puppies.
How Are Dogs Being Stolen?
Some of the dogs being targeted are puppies directly from the breeder, where the parent and her puppies are increasingly being taken together. These non-neutered and non-spayed dogs are then kept for the purposes of breeding and treated as commodities, causing great concern for their wellbeing. Gangs are trawling neighbourhoods marking gates where a pedigree lives to return later to steal the dog. Dogs are being snatched from parks and the street, right under their owners' noses.
How To Prevent Your Dog From Being Snatched?
Microchip your dog. If the police do find your dog the microchip will trace your dog back to you. Unfortunately, the microchip is not big enough and the technology is not advanced enough to be a tracker too.
Attach a tracker to their collar. You will be able to track your dog in real-time using GPS tracking and your cell phone. Purchase a Pawfit dog tracker from our shop here.
ID tag on your dog’s collar. By law, your name and phone number need to be clearly visible on the dog tag at all times.
How To Keep Your Dog Safe
Don’t let your dog off a lead if you can’t control them.
Teach your dog RECALL: Use an extender lead until they come when they are called. Watch Lucy Heath teaching Recall
Avoid routine: Try not to walk in the same place at the same time everyday.
Be aware of social media: don’t do location tagging.
Don’t leave your dog alone in the car.
Don’t leave them tied up outside a shop.
Secure the perimeter of your garden and secure your home.
Use the buddy system and walk with a friend.
Be extra vigilant if you have a litter of puppies and if your dog is a pedigree.
According to Yorkshire Evening Post the most popular 10 dog breeds of lockdown are the dogs that are the most likely to be stolen in the UK.
What To Do If Your Dog Is Missing
The Government is campaigning to remind owners that all dogs must be microchipped so that their details are recorded on a database. Should your dog go missing immediately report it to the police, let the microchip database know too. If your records are up to date and the police do find your dog, there is a much greater chance of your best friend being returned to you.
The best defence is to be vigilant in securing your property, keeping your eyes on your dog at all times when out and about. They were once our bodyguards now it's best if we are theirs.
Some people believe the lenient sentence is not enough of a deterrent for criminals. If you wish to add your support sign this petition to get sentencing increased from 7 to 8 years. Sign the petition here.
For inspiration, read about the progress being made to increase sentencing for criminals who harm service animals in Fabulous Finn - The Superdog Shaping The Law.