UK dog theft on the rise – How can you protect your Cavalier?

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Adult Cavaliers and puppies are now worth thousands of pounds. Dog theft has been slowly rising for years but due to the current pandemic and lockdown, the demand for dogs and puppies is unprecedented. The number of stolen dogs increased by a massive 250% in 2020.

Cavaliers are now commonly being sold for in excess of £2500, only a year ago a Kennel Club registered, health tested puppy would have been in the region of £1100-£1400. Unregistered puppies from untested parents were sold for approximately £700-1100. Undesirable breeders without licenses have been listing and selling puppies for many thousands of pounds with no problems so this is no more difficult for a dog thief to do.

Pregnant dogs, or dogs with puppies are at even more at risk of theft. Young puppies still with their mother are not yet microchipped so for identification purposes it makes it much easier for a thief to get away with it, of course they also command a much higher price.

Scams and violence

We are hearing stories every day on the news and via social media of dogs being stolen from gardens or house break-ins. Dog owners have been followed and stopped on walks and have had their dogs taken from them. Dogs are even being violently stolen from parked cars or when stopped at traffic lights. White RSPCA van

Very worryingly now we are hearing multiple reports of a scam where an individual or pair of dognappers claim to be an RSPCA worker, or the local dog warden. They have the same uniforms as an RSPCA/SSPCA inspector and sign written vans matching the vehicles used by the charities. The thieves claim that they need to scan your dog for a microchip before putting the dog in their van and making a quick getaway.

We have also been informed that there have been thefts made by delivery drivers. They have taken great interest in the names and details of the dogs at a property and returned at a later time.

The attacks on dog owners have also become very violent. People are being threatened at knife point, dog leads are being cut and dogs are being forced from their owners arms.

Stay Vigilant and protect your dog

The thefts are becoming so common and not only is your dog in danger but you are also. It is terribly sad for us all to be in this situation, but we feel for the short term at least we all need to adapt our behaviour with our dogs to keep them safe. What can we do to lessen risk of dog theft?

  • We do have a compulsory dog microchipping law in the UK, so your dog should already be chipped but make sure your details are updated and the microchip is checked periodically.
  • Keep your gates and doors locked, do not allow your Cavalier to be let out into your garden on their own and as always never leave your dog outside a shop.
  • Do not hand your dog over to ANYONE. If the RSPCA are genuinely attending your property confirm this by telephoning them.
  • Try not to walk alone, this may be impossible for some people of course.
  • If using a dog walker get references. If using boarding kennel make sure they are licensed by your local council.Personal Safety Alarm black
  • Carry a personal alarm, these can be purchased for only a few pounds online and make a very loud sound to gain attention by other members of the public. They are small enough to easily fit in your pocket or be clipped to your belt loop.
  • Take photographs of your dog often so you have recent images in case the worst should happen.
  • Beware of strangers asking questions about your dog while out walking.
  • If you can – use an extending lead if safe to do so and try to vary your routine. Off lead dogs would be easier to steal so choose your exercise area very carefully and make sure their recall is very good- if in doubt keep on lead.
  • Legally you are allowed to carry a criminal identifier self defence spray- it would buy a few precious seconds for you to escape or get the attention of a passer by. The spray contains a dye which would stain the skin. We highly recommend these type of sprays that can be purchased on Amazon.
  • Try not to get distracted on your mobile phone while out walking, pay attention to your surroundings at all times.
  • Do not leave your dog alone in a parked car.
  • Keep car doors locked at all times when travelling.
  • Don’t use social media to show off your new or existing dog, avoid any location tagging online and never give out your address.
  • Increase your security at home, consider CCTV or a doorbell with a camera system.

What do you do if your dog is lost or stolen?

  • If you do find yourself in this absolutely awful and distressing situation, or you witness a theft, report it immediately to the police. Give as much information as you can, if you see the thief then try to note down immediately what they are wearing. If there is a vehicle involved make a note of the registration, as well as the make and model. Ensure you get a crime reference number.
  • Use social media to make it known your dog has been taken but again be very careful and don’t use your address etc.
  • Make posters and place in your local area.
  • Doglost is a fantastic resource, visit the website to add your stolen pet.
  • Contact local rescue centres.
  • Contact all local vets in case the dog is brought into them.
  • Contact your local council dog warden.
  • Contact the microchip database your dog is registered with immediately so they can mark the dog as ‘stolen’.

The law may change

Some potentially more positive news, Priti Patel Home Secretary is considering giving offenders of dog and animal theft harsher penalties, lets hope this happens very soon. The ‘Make dog theft a specific criminal offence‘ petition gained so much traction and resonated with so many of us that there are currently more than 248,000 signatures. Please do sign.

In the meantime, stay aware of your surroundings and please don’t think “It’ll never happen!” Dog theft is a very real problem and can happen to any one of us at any time. Please take care and be very vigilant, there are a few things you can do to help ensure your dogs safety.