There’s plenty of news circulating about increases in dog thefts over the past few months. And nationally, the OurWatch national neighbourhood watch scheme has launched a “Protect your Pooch” campaign to raise awareness of the issues and help remind people on effective ways to protect their dogs.
Whilst local policing teams are not reporting a particularly worrying spike in these offences locally, it can never be a bad idea to be prepared.
The OurWatch PROTECT YOUR POOCH campaign encourages people to keep their pets SECURE, IN SIGHT and SEARCHABLE, and to HELP MAKE PET THEFT A SPECIFIC CRIMINAL OFFENCE. The Met Police and Crimestoppers are backing the SECURE, IN SIGHT and SEARCHABLE message. More information on the campaign can be found on the OurWatch website at www.ourwatch.org.uk/protectyourpooch.
A webinar scheduled for 27th May is now unfortunately fully booked, but please follow the information online. Share with dog owners in your neighbourhood or community.
Here are the tips from the Protect Your Pooch campaign.
Remember: SECURE, IN SIGHT and SEARCHABLE…
Pets are easily stolen from a garden when left unattended, even if for just a few minutes. Front gardens are very vulnerable. Fit a bell or gate alarm to any rear or side gates; the gates should be secured with British Standard locks, locking bolts or closed shackle padlocks.
Secure your garden boundary to prevent your dog from escaping or a thief from reaching in and taking your dog out.
As well as a lock, consider fitting a bell or small alarm to outside kennels to warn you of any tampering.
Be particularly careful of sharing or publicly posting on social media details of where you live, the type of dog you have and where you walk.
Never leave your dog unattended in a car – especially on warm days – as it is not just dangerous for their health but allows them to be easily targeted by thieves.
Leaving your dog alone outside a shop is another easy opportunity for a thief, even if you are only away for a minute.
It’s important your dog will return when called; if it is not trained to do this, be very careful of allowing them off the lead, especially in unfamiliar areas. You may wish to keep them on an extending lead instead.
Varying the times and routes you take when walking your dog.
Be careful of strangers asking you a lot of questions when you are walking your dog – they could be distracting you to make it easy for them to steal your dog.
If you need to use a dog walking service or kennels, make sure you check references carefully to ensure the offer is genuine or the company is trusted.
Make sure your dog is microchipped and the details are correct on any of the recognised pet registration databases. Your dog must be microchipped by the time it is eight weeks old. For further information about the process and potential databases visit the UK government webpage on microchipping your dog.
Fit your dog with a collar; the tag on the collar should have a contact number and your surname, not the name of the dog.
Make sure you take pictures of your dog from various angles, especially if they have distinctive markings or features. A further photo of you with your dog can help to prove ownership. Taking photos of your dog in various conditions can also help, such as with a groomed coat or an untidy one.