Dognapping advice: What to do if your adorable pup is stolen - as canine thefts increase by 25 per cent in a single year

This week (March 14-21) is Pet Theft Awareness Week, set up to highlight the crime, assist victims and lobby government to increase the penalties for those who steal animals from their owners.

Thursday, 17th March 2022, 10:11 am
Updated Thursday, 17th March 2022, 10:24 am
If the unthinkable happens and your pet is stolen, there are a few things you can do to increase the chance of being reunited.
If the unthinkable happens and your pet is stolen, there are a few things you can do to increase the chance of being reunited.

Proposed changes to the law in England and Wales mean that people who steal a canine companion could face up to five years in jail, while in Scotland a petition calling for harsher dognapping rules attracted over 140,000 signatures.

And it’s a growing problem, with research from campaign group Pet Theft Reform showing a concerning 25 per cent year-on-year rise in recorded dog theft offences between 2020 and 2021.

In a recent investigative documentary, Bring Molly Home, the BBC exposes the devastation of dog theft on its victims and how growing demand during the pandemic drove an increase in this cruel and lucrative crime.

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With this in mind, the pet insurance experts at Animal Friends have provided some top tips on what to do if you ever fall victim to pet theft:

Report it to the police

You should call 999 if you witness a theft, or call 101 if you suspect your dog has been stolen.

The first step to take is to report your stolen or suspected stolen pet to the police, and provide them with as much information as possible, such as distinct markings, their microchip number and the precise location of where the dog went missing or was taken.

You must report that your pet is missing to the local animal warden.

Contact your microchipping service

Be sure to reach out to your pet’s microchipping provider to flag that they are lost or stolen, and ensure that all the information on record is up to date.

You should also ring around local vets and rescue centres to see whether any dogs that fit the description have been brought in recently, lost and stray dogs are legally allowed to be rehomed after seven days if the owners aren’t identified, so ensure that you keep chasing these services to ensure that your dog hasn’t been brought in.

Register online and advertise on social media

Social media is a fantastic tool allowing you to reach the masses at the touch of a button, there are many Facebook, Instagram and other social media pages dedicated to reuniting lost and stolen pets with their owners, so engaging with these is a great place to start on your search.You should also register that your dog is missing on, a service which works to reunite lost dogs with their owners.

Check ‘dog for sale’ posts online

If your dog has been stolen, they may be resold or used for breeding purposes. Keep an eye on any advertisements for dogs for sale online, not only in your area but across the country, as thieves and breeders tend to use online platforms to reach people looking for a new dog. If you spot a dog that looks like yours, be sure to get in touch with the police as soon as possible. Do not approach the sellers yourself as this could be dangerous.

Revisit the area you last saw them

Whilst it may be a long shot, posting flyers in the surrounding areas will help raise awareness and alert fellow animal lovers to keep a look out and get in touch if they see a similar looking dog.

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