You may be aware that dog theft is increasing but you may not be aware that the North West is currently a ‘hot spot’. Over recent months there has been extensive media coverage on TV, the radio and in the press.
The encouraging news is that things are starting to happen at national, regional and local level. The following are some recent examples. A taskforce has been set up by the government to take the lead on dog theft and includes officials from the Home Office, Ministry for Justice and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. A petition to make pet theft a specific crime in UK Law currently has over 528,000 signatures. You may wish to support this petition and add your own signature by clicking here.
There are various measures that owners can take to help protect their dogs.
ID Your Dog
Ensure that your dog is microchipped by the time it’s 8 weeks old and that it wears a collar with a tag on it when it’s out in a public place, whether on a lead or not. Both are legal requirements in England, Scotland and Wales.
Contact your micro chip provider to check that they have your correct details, e.g. you may have changed your address or mobile number and not informed them. For detailed information go to www.Gov.UK Get Your Dog Microchipped.
Collar and ID Tag
To be compliant the ID tag should include your surname, house number and postcode. Consider including your vet’s telephone number as well. It’s not a requirement to include your dog’s name, therefore, for security reasons it’s not advisable to include it or your full address.
Make sure that you have some recent clear photographs of your dog, including its face and ensure that you update them regularly. Take them from various angles to show any distinguishing features that would help with identification. Have photographs of yourself with your dog to help prove ownership, if necessary.
Be Dog Theft Aware
Your dog is vulnerable if it is:
• left unattended in your garden/outdoor area (most dogs are stolen from gardens)
• left tied up outside a shop or supermarket
• left alone in your car, even if your car is locked and alarmed
• off lead and not under close control wandering out of sight
• waiting by your car at the end of a walk, having run on ahead of you
If the Worst Happens
If your dog is stolen or lost, it is important to act quickly:
• call 999 and report it to the local police (insist it is recorded as a theft and not a lost animal – ask for a crime reference number)
• report the theft or loss to the microchip provider with whom your dog is registered. This will ensure that if anyone tries to re-register the chip number, you will be informed if and when your dog is found
• use social media to post information about the theft or loss, include photographs of your dog