Published: 09:00, 23 September 2021
A raw dog food company has enlisted the help of a security expert to reveal their top tips on keeping pets safe, following a rise in dognapping.
With figures suggesting 2,000 dogs were stolen in the UK in 2020, here are the things you can do to ensure your pup's safety.
With thieves seeking to profit from the surge in demand for dogs during the coronavirus pandemic, The Pet Theft Taskforce created a ‘pet abduction’ offence, to acknowledge the welfare of animals.
In response to this, ProDog Raw, a raw dog food specialist, and security experts have highlighted how dog thieves are stealing pets and what owners can do to deter them.
The experts advised that a new tactic thieves are using is ‘tagging’, where they spray paint crosses or other symbols on the pavement outside, to show that a desirable dog is at the property, and they should return to it to steal it.
Additionally thieves will ‘scout’ dogs at popular locations like dog parks, and ask questions about the dog, such as whether it has been neutered or not.
They will then follow the owner home to find out where they live.
In light of these revelations, here are the top tips for keeping dogs safe from thieves:
• Ensure the dog is never left unattended outside or in a car by itself.
This is a prime opportunity for a thief to take the dog, and will often be prepared with treats to lure them away quietly.
• If a mysterious symbol appears outside a house, the owner should wash it away immediately and report it to the police, or those who might spot it should notify the owner of its existence.
• Try and mix up routines, this means a thief can’t predict when a dog might be left alone and vulnerable.
This can be as simple as rotating when a dog is walked to when an owner leaves the house.
Often thieves will only watch a house for a couple of days before deciding whether to steal a dog from a certain property.
• If a stranger starts asking a lot of questions about a dog, particularly whether the dog is neutered, what their age is or whether they have any conditions, see it as a red flag and walk away.
Never reveal this information to unknown people and be sure to tell other dog walkers in the area.
• Refrain from sharing too much information on social media.
Thieves are known to scour accounts on Facebook and Instagram to get information on a dog’s whereabouts and routine.
Heidi Maskelyne, founder of ProDog Raw, said: “It’s about time that the police took dog theft seriously.
"Before this new abduction offence, stealing a dog was considered property theft, which often resulted in very mild punishments that don’t reflect the sheer devastation having a pet stolen can bring to a family.
“I think the expert’s insight and tips are invaluable to owners, because they’re actionable and cost-effective; you don’t have to spend hundreds of pounds on a state of the art CCTV system to keep your dog safe.
"What’s clear from the advice is to be wary and vigilant, there are criminals out there with insidious intentions, but there’s also a lot we can do to ensure they’re not successful.”
To view the full guide on how to protect a dog from dognappers, click here.