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Dog Theft, Keeping safe while out with your dog.

The recent rise in dog thefts is certainly cause for concern. Since July 2020 South Yorkshire police have recorded 63 investigations in which a dog has been taken. It appears that the majority of attempted dog thefts are just opportunists looking for an easy source of money.

I am not a self defence expert nor am I an expert in the law, however, if you are faced with violence then the police advise you step back. As I said the majority of these incidents are just opportunists, however, some mean business and will use violence to achieve their goal.

Police advise that they should be your first port of call following a theft or an attempted theft using 999 and you should wait for them to turn up. You should also call the police on 101 to report anything suspicious. Note as many details as possible of the people and any cars, trucks or vans they are using, if you are able take photographs, without risking injury to yourself, please do so. I would like to point out that it is against the law to carry an obvious weapon such as a baseball bat, however, later in this article, I have listed a few items that you are allowed to carry to prevent theft and defend yourself.

The Covid pandemic has caused a rise in people wanting a dog for companionship and an exercise partner. This demand for dogs has meant that demand is vastly larger than supply and therefore these criminals can demand a high price. This has created this apparent opportunity for these vile humans.

The best protection you have to prevent your dog being stolen is to be prepared. Here are some hints and tips and some basic equipment to help you.

  • Ensure your dog’s chip is working (pop to your vet to check) and then ensure that your details are up to date with the chip company

  • Make sure your dog has a collar and ID tag on – they may slip the claws of the thieves and run off

  • Do not let your dog off lead if they do not recall. A recall means I run straight back at full speed the second I hear my recall cue.

  • Despite how successful your recall is – do not let your dog off lead in isolated or wooded areas or at dusk or in the dark

  • Walk in pairs or groups (if Covid regs allow)

  • Do not be in denial about your dog being a target – all dogs are target and have a value to thieves. Elderly dogs have also been stolen

  • Be aware of your environment and stay alert – do not listen to music / talk on the phone

  • Keep an eye out for unusual people, especially those just ‘hanging’ about.

  • Keep an eye out for strange vehicles that are not usually in the area or vehicles that drive past 2 or more times

  • Be visible in your defence – wear a bright coloured lanyard and whistle (if they think you will draw attention to them by making a racket, they may leave you alone)

  • If the ‘suspicious person’ continues to approach you, get the whistle ready to blow.

  • Carry a personal attack alarm and carry it visibly on a belt loop

  • Carry a torch

  • Look at carrying an umbrella or walking stick

  • Always ensure your mobile phone is charged and you know how to quickly access 999 on your phone, many like the iPhone have a shortcut without having to unlock the keyboard and dial the number

  • Look at carrying a spray dye – one that does not wash off easily (and is safe for your dog) – if your dog is sprayed bright red they may leave him as it would be difficult to explain why the dog is red and if you get a little bit on them accidentally it will make them easier to identify them!

  • Whatever you decide to carry as a deterrent – ensure it is legal and they are close to hand in an easy accessible pocket or outside pocket of your dog walking bag or on a utility belt!

  • Look out for spray paint, cable ties or anything unusual on or by the entrance to your property – they may be innocent, such as BT or Water company works – but if you are suspicious – report to the police

  • Do not leave your dogs alone in the garden, always keep an eye on them

  • I would not recommend using an outside kennel unless your security is state of the art

I would also look at downloading the ‘what3words’ app on your phone. This will help when you report a theft or attempted theft by letting the police know exactly where you are.

There is a UK website called DOGHORN with further advice and a shop to buy some of the items I have mentioned above. They advise starting a local ‘Whats App’ group so we can immediately alert each other to attempted or actual dog thefts.

Making sure your dog walks nicely by your side on their lead will also ensure you have closer control over your dog when people approach, you can also walk with your dog next to the wall/hedge reducing access possibilities to your dog. If your dog is out in front on a long line. it is easier for someone to cut the lead and steal your dog. It is always best to ensure your dog’s recall is reliable so you can call them away from strangers. I would advise you to not encourage strangers to fuss your dog and ask them not to interact with our dog. Don't panic though help is at hand, we can help you to get a rapid recall and happy lead walking. We have a number of options to help, Click here for more details.

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