Our dogs are an important part of our family, and so when he suddenly goes missing it can be absolutely devastating. Regardless of whether he has been lost or stolen, you will probably feel sick with worry until his whereabouts have been traced. Your natural instinct may be to panic, but it is important that you keep calm and act quickly to have the best possible chance of safely recovering your beloved pet.
Here is our guide to what to do if your dog is lost or stolen.
Report your dog as lost or stolen
The very first thing that you should do is report your dog as either lost or suspected stolen (whichever applies) to your local council’s dog warden, as this is the person most likely to pick up your pet if a member of the public finds him wandering around.
You should also report your dog as either lost or stolen to local branches of the RSCPA and veterinary practises, again because these are places that a lost dog may be taken by the finder.
If you have reason to believe that your dog has been stolen rather than become lost, then you should report it as a theft to your local police station. Unfortunately, not all police are willing to record missing dogs as theft, and so you may find you need to be insistent and provide any proof that may be left behind.
Finally, you should report your dog to the microchip database. They will then know to inform you if anyone tries to re-register the chip number associated with your pet.
Search the neighbourhood
While it is completely understandable to want to get straight out and start searching for your beloved dog, a methodical and well thought-out search is almost always more beneficial. By visiting the locations that you usually take your pet for a walk, including nearby parks and walking routes, you will be able to speak to other dog owners about your missing pet. Go armed with photographs and post-it notes with your contact number on, so that anyone that may have seen your dog can get in touch.
Then spread your news wider
Some dogs have the ability to run for very long distances, and if your dog has gone missing then he may be further away than you anticipate. If you don’t have any success in tracking your pet down within the first 24 hours then spread news of his disappearance further afield.
Utilise the power of social media
Social media is currently one of the most powerful tools at our disposal, and news of your dog’s disappearance can spread extraordinarily quickly. Ask your social media friends to like and share the information, as this significantly increases the number of people who will hear that your dog is missing and will dramatically improve the likelihood of recovering your pet safe and well.
Even with the evolution of technology, there is still a definite place for traditional methods when it comes to tracing lost or stolen dogs. Create a poster using one or two very clear and recent photographs of your pet. Include the details of when/where your dog went missing or was stolen and remember to put your contact details on too. Display the poster in as many places locally as you are able to, including shop noticeboards, schools and libraries.
Don’t give up hope
Some dogs that have gone missing are not found for several days or even weeks. Don’t give up hope and keep circulating information about your pet.
Animal theft in the UK has grown steadily over the last five years, with dogs being the primary target of both opportunistic thieves, and highly organised and experienced gangs of snatchers. Some target pedigree dogs with the intention of selling them for profit or using them for breeding. Genuine pedigree puppies can sell for upwards of £600, but pups from a puppy farm are often sold considerably cheaper in order to turn a fast profit. Puppy farms are created by individuals or groups who mate their dogs and bitches with one intention – to create as many pups as possible. This often means that bitches are forced to carry litters too frequently and in poor conditions, putting her and her puppies at risk. The pups are often sold too early, and without any of the necessary vaccinations, treatment or paperwork. Other thieves target older dogs of any breed so that they can be used as bait dogs in illegal dog-fighting rings. Both of these scenarios are heart-breaking for dog lovers and it is understandable to worry about the security of your pet. That is why we have put together this guide detailing some of the best ways to help protect your dog from theft.
Dog Theft Protection at Home
Although your dog is safer at home than anywhere else, there are still some steps that you can take to ensure that your pet is well protected from theft.
* Make sure that your garden is as secure as possible, particularly if your dog likes to dig! If you don’t mind higher fences, then this is a good way to stop potential thieves from seeing your pet to identify its age and breed, and makes it much harder to get in and out of your garden if the gate is locked.
* Consider fitting a bell or similar noise-making device to your garden gate so that you will hear if anyone tries to open it.
* Don't leave your pet unattended in the garden, keep him firmly in sight.
* Consider covering the garden, and front and rear entrances to your property with CCTV.
* Install a burglar alarm for your home.
* Keep pets away when answering the door. This is especially true if you have multiple dogs who tend to rush to the front door when you have a visitor, as the confusion may make it easy for a thief to snatch and run with a smaller breed.
If you breed puppies
If you breed puppies, you are at greater risk of theft as you need to invite people into your home to view them. Minimise your risk by:
* Making sure another family member or friend is present when you show the puppies.
* Place a limit on the number of people that you show the puppies to at any one time.
* Show the puppies in a secure area of your house that has only one access point.
Outside your Home
Your dog is most vulnerable when they are outside of the home. Here are some preventative measures you can take against theft.
* Don’t leave your dog tied up outside a school or a shop as this makes him an opportunistic target. If you need to run an errand, leave him at home and take him out for a dedicated walk later.
* Don’t leave your dog unattended in the car. Not only does it put him at risk of serious dehydration, but it would also only take a thief a matter of seconds to break a window and snatch him.
* Some thieves have been known to target specific dogs by monitoring their daily activities. Change up your walking routes and times so you don’t become predictable.
* Be wary of strangers asking lots of questions about your pet.
* Train your dog to return when called and don’t let him off the lead until he can reliably do so.
* When letting him off the lead, try to only do so in areas where you can keep a close eye on your dog, such as open fields and parks.
* If you want to use services such as a dog groomer, walker, sitter or kennels, make sure you use a reliable and reputable business, and get first hand references wherever you can.
General Rules for Dog Security
* Microchipping your pet is the single most important thing that you can do as it means that if your dog is lost and then found he can be returned to you. However, it also means that if you believe your dog is stolen and you let the microchipping database know, if anyone else tries to re register the chip in their name, it will instantly flag up that the dog has been stolen. Just remember to keep your address and phone details up to date so that you can be contacted.
* Make sure your dog has a collar and ID tag with your name, address and phone number on so that you can be contacted without taking your dog to a veterinarian for a chip scan.
* Take plenty of pictures of your dog on a regular basis, and particularly of any distinguishing features. You should also take pictures of your dog with you and other family members as this will help prove ownership in the case of a dispute.
Don’t let your pet be an easy target. Follow some of the advice listed above and protect your dog from theft today.
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