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Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, the demand for dogs in the UK has soared.
So why are dogs being stolen, and what should you do if yours is taken? Here’s all you need to know?
The demand for dogs during the coronavirus pandemic has caused a spike in dog theftsCredit: Alamy
Why are dogs being stolen in the UK?
Experts are claiming that the demand for dogs during the coronavirus pandemic has caused a spike in dog thefts.
Following the announcement of the first UK-wide lockdown on March 23, Google searches for ‘buy a puppy’ increased by 120 per cent – with ‘adopt a puppy’ seeing a rise of 133 per cent.
Charities in the UK have also been overwhelmed recently with requests to adopt the last year, with Dogs Trust re-homing 25 per cent more pups than this time in 2019.
The increase in demand has sent prices skyrocketing, especially for certain popular breeds.
CEO of animal campaign group Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (Sampa) Debbie Matthews tells Sun Online: “We originally thought there would be a drop in dog thefts because of lockdown but found the numbers increased.
“[Because] we’ve seen prices go through the roof for puppies during lockdown, you would expect criminals to cash in especially as there’s no real deterrents in place to stop dog theft.
“There were more break-ins to houses and kennels, which meant there were more dogs taken at one time.”
What breed of dog is stolen most?
According to Direct Line pet insurance research, for the sixth year in a row, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are the most popular breed of dog to be targeted by thieves.
There’s also been an increase in the number of crossbreeds and Cocker Spaniels stolen.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are the most popular breed of dog to be targeted by thievesCredit: Alamy
How can I protect my dog from being stolen?
Here are the RSPCA’s top tips to keep your dogs safe from theft.
- Don’t leave your dog outside a shop on his own or in a car alone.
- Teach your dog a reliable recall for when you are out walking.
- Check your garden to make sure it is secure and if you have a gate then fit with a lock.
- Neuter your pet as this can reduce the likelihood of roaming.
- Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with an ID tag and that it is up to date. It is a legal requirement for a dog to have an ID tag with your name and address on it. The RSPCA also recommends including your mobile phone number on any ID tag as this can help reunite you with your pet quickly should he ever get lost or stolen.
- Microchip your pet and keep the details up to date so that if your pet does go missing or is stolen then there is a higher chance they can be reunited. It is a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped in England and Wales.
- Keep recent photographs of your pet and make a note of any distinguishing features.
NThere’s also been an increase in the number of crossbreeds and Cocker Spaniels stolenCredit: Alamy
What should I do if my dog is stolen?
Here’s have you should do if your pet is stolen, according to Direct Line pet insurers.
- Immediately report a missing dog to the microchip databases Petlog, PETtrac and Identibase. They’ll be able to notify you when your pet is found.
- If you believe your dog has been stolen, report the crime to the police and ask for a crime reference number. This will make it easier to find out about the precise nature of their investigation.
- Put up posters in the local area. Familiarising the neighbourhood with your dog will make it more likely to be found by a stranger.
- Register your missing pet on a dedicated website, such as Animal Search UK. Again, this will make it easier for members of the public to find and help return your dog.
- Post on social media to raise awareness, especially any local community groups that can share your post and help spread the news.
- Retrace your steps if your dog went missing during a walk. You may stumble across clues as to where they might have headed.
- Be sure to search common hiding places, surrounding gardens and the local neighbourhood. Ask anyone you see about your dog.
- Check with the council. The government has a handy feature which allows you to search for missing dogs.