As we all know, dog theft is increasing at an alarming rate. Animals are being stolen to order, either to be forced into breeding on puppy farms or to be sold on for quick cash. Many of the stolen dogs are being taken abroad where there is less chance of ever seeing them again.
According to a recent survey, over half of dogs that are stolen are taken from owners’ gardens with another 19% taken in house burglaries and as many as 16% taken from owners while on a walk.
In recent months, there have been cases of pregnant bitches being stolen; and whole litters of puppies have also been taken. Unfortunately, this means you cannot trust anyone, however honourable they seem to be.
To protect your animals there are a few common-sense precautions you can take:
1. Be very careful and vigilant about who comes to view your puppies when they are for sale. Take details of any prospective purchaser and check those details are correct.
2. Have someone else with you whenever anyone comes to see the puppies.
3. Limit the number of people viewing the dogs at any one time so you can keep an eye on everyone.
4. Never, ever let any prospective purchaser take the dog out ‘for a walk’ or take it off your premises for any other reason.
5. Don’t advertise the puppies with pictures and your address. Only give out your address when you know the caller is genuine.
6. Consider fitting CCTV if that is appropriate for your premises.
7. Ensure perimeter fences are sturdy and there is nothing leaning against the fences that could be used as a climbing aid.
It’s important to alert your new owners to the dangers of dog theft too. Here are some tips to pass on to them:
1. Ask for the microchip to be checked at every vet visit to ensure it is still working.
2. Your dog must wear an ID tag even when at home in case it escapes.
3. Never leave your dog unattended, such as tied up outside a shop or in a car.
4. Ensure your garden is escape proof with secure boundary fences and gates that fasten securely. And fit a cow bell or chimes that would be triggered by any visitor so you can hear trespassers.
5. Take photographs of your dog, both front and side profiles and make a note of any unusual markings.
6. Train the dog to stay within sight when off the lead and to come immediately when called.
7. Be alert and aware.
And remember, if your dog is insured with Agria Pet Insurance and the worst happens and your dog is stolen, your insurance policy will pay for advertising and offering a reward to get it returned. With optional extra cover, you could be reimbursed for the cost of the animal if it is not recovered.
“It’s very important if your dog is stolen to get a Crime Reference Number. The microchip is not proof of ownership so you could get into a lengthy civil court case trying to get your own dog back. With a Crime Reference Number you can prove when and where it was stolen from you.” Debbie Matthews, www.vetsgetscanning.co.uk.