Take the lead on dog theft
Since the start of the pandemic, dog thefts have increased and we’ve seen more and more reports of people having their pets stolen, being threatened, or feeling worried about walking their dogs safely.
How big is the dog theft problem?
DogLost, a UK charity which helps the victims of dog theft, has recorded a 170 per cent increase in the crime between 2019 and 2020; Direct Line estimates that 2,438 dogs were reported as stolen in 2020, the equivalent of seven dogs stolen every day. And the surge in demand for ‘pandemic puppies’ has led to an increase in prices for dogs, making dog theft an increasingly lucrative activity.
The theft of a pet is an extremely upsetting and traumatic experience for the owner and can obviously have terrible consequences for the pets themselves. But the law currently doesn’t reflect this. It is ineffective and doesn’t pose any deterrent to determined thieves. The Pet Theft Reform campaign reported that in recent years only one per cent of dog theft crimes led to a prosecution, and oftentimes, it’s only a fine.
Often police forces don’t record dog theft as a crime in itself, and report it as a normal burglary or theft, which means we don’t know the true numbers of dog thefts across the country.
Nottinghamshire Police are changing this and have become the first force in the country to appoint a Chief Inspector as a dog theft lead to prevent further dog thefts and show that dog theft is a serious crime. Devon and Cornwall Police force has also appointed a specialist officer to fight a rising number of dog thefts.
Take action against dog theft
Earlier this year, we asked you to speak to your Police and Crime Commissioner and Mayoral candidates ahead of English and Welsh elections on 6 May 2021, and many of you did! You asked our future representatives to take the lead on tackling dog theft and appoint dog theft leads in their police forces.
On Friday 3 September, the Pet Theft TaskForce released a report and made recommendations to solve the dog theft problem.
After years of campaigning alongside other animal welfare charities, pet abduction will finally be recognised as a specific criminal offence. After a spike in thefts since the start of the first lockdown, the Pet Theft Taskforce has recognised the immense suffering caused for both pets and owners and is taking steps to make this law happen.
Other recommendations from the report included:
- In 2021 Defra will also take forward the report’s recommendations on microchipping, including new requirements to register more details on dog microchip databases; a single point of access, and enabling changes of keeper to be tracked more closely.
- The Home Office will work with the police to explore options for ensuring pet thefts are recorded in a consistent manner and readily identifiable within police force information management systems across England and Wales.
With your help, we will continue to improve the welfare of pets across the UK, particularly when it comes to pet theft and preventing heartbreak for owners. If you want to do more, you can sign up for updates below. We’ll email you if we need your help or if there’s an update.