Since the coronavirus lockdown, dog owners in the UK have had the opportunity to spend more time at home with their pets. A recent survey by the PDSA found that the number of dogs being left alone for more than five hours a day almost halved. This is good news for dogs.
However, it hasn't all been good news. Having more time at home has led to more people getting pets, as people take advantage of their additional free time or look for companions to keep them company. As the demand for dogs increased, so has the price of puppies, with some breeds selling for £5,000 or more. Criminals are capitalising on the upward surge in the value of dogs, and incidences of dog theft are rising exponentially.
The charity DogLost has reported a shocking 170% increase in dog thefts since lockdown started.
Very few dog thefts end up in court, and typical punishment is a fine or community service, so there's little disincentive to stop thieves. With the deterrent so feeble, and the rewards so potentially large, how can you stop your dog being stolen?
How to Stop Your Dog Being Stolen
Losing a dog to theft can have a severe impact on pet owners and lead to serious depression and anxiety. As dogs are members of our family, we would do anything to protect them. Here are five top tips to stop your dog being stolen.
1. Never leave your dog unattended outside a shop or anywhere in public, including in the car.
2. Have your dog neutered so that they have no worth to unscrupulous puppy farmers.
3. Avoid geotagging photos of your dog on social media so that thieves can't track you down.
4. Ensure your dog is microchipped so that it can be returned to you if found.
5. Fit your dog with a GPS tracking collar so that you know their whereabouts at all times.
Protecting Your Dog on Walks
With the rise in dog thefts, a recent survey found that 75% of dog walkers were fearful of walking their dogs, even in daylight. But there are steps you can take to ensure your and your dog's safety.
First of all, if you're walking your dog on lead, ensure the collar, harness and lead are all in good working order and properly attached. A steel-cored dog lead will ensure it can't be easily cut from your grasp. If you run your dog off lead, then make sure they have reliable recall so that you can call them back when they go out of sight.
You should also vary your walking routine so that you can't be targeted by someone following your movements. Walking with a friend or dog walking group will also give you some protection, as a thief is less likely to approach a group than a lone dog walker. If you are approached while out walking, be wary of answering too many questions about your dog, and avoid letting someone bend down to pet them.
A GPS dog tracker fitted to your pet's collar will allow you to track their movements in real time using your iPhone or Android mobile phone. The SaferPet GPS pet tracker will ensure you can find your dog before someone else finds them. You can follow their movements in real time, similarly to the way a dog fitness tracker works.
Protecting Your Dog at Home
It's a frightening thought, but thieves have been known to just walk right into an unlocked house and steal dogs in broad daylight. To protect your dog while at home, you should ensure your house and garden are both secured, even when you're there.
If your dog is playing outside, they are safer in the back garden than the front. You might also want to consider high fences or hedges to safeguard the privacy of your garden.
Be aware of any strangers unusually hanging around near your house. At night, external home security lights can give you some peace of mind that you will be alerted if anyone approaches.
Do People Steal Dogs From Your Front Garden?
Research commissioned by an insurance company found that a large number of dog owners leave their pets unsupervised in gardens for long periods, including while they are out or at work. It's no surprise, then, that according to police data, a shocking 70% of stolen dogs are taken from people's homes and gardens.
It seems that people have a false sense of security when they're at home, thinking that their beloved pets are safe in the garden and fail to take adequate precautions.
Can Dogs Get Stolen From Cars?
Thieves can be lurking anywhere, and if you regularly leave your dog unattended in your car, you might be targeted as an easy touch for a dog thief. The best plan is never to leave your dog alone outside the house, whether inside the car or out.
It's not all doom and gloom, luckily. A petition that raised more than 300,000 signatures calling for stiffer penalties for dog theft was debated in Parliament. As a result, the UK government recently announced a taskforce to investigate the rise in pet theft.
In the meantime, following your dog's movements using a pet GPS tracker, like the one offered by SaferPet, can help you ensure your pet stays safe and secure near you.
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