Thursday 23 July 2020

Dog theft is on the rise – especially since lockdown

For pet owners, the sudden disappearance of their beloved companion is one of the worst things imaginable. But sadly, for many owners, this is becoming a harsh reality as dog theft is on the increase.
During lockdown, many people sought the companionship of a new puppy, thinking it was the ideal time to settle in a new member of the family. Unscrupulous thieves have noticed this surge in demand, and as prices increased, so have thefts.
Dog theft is not new. There have always been those who steal dogs and puppies for their own gain. There are several motives for stealing a dog, including reselling to puppy farms for breeding, or at an inflated price via online community sites such as Gumtree, and also, shockingly, for dog fighting. There are even instances of dogs being stolen and taken to medical and other types of laboratories, to be used in experimentation.
More recently. thieves have spotted that dogs (and especially puppies) are a quick and easy way to make money. With the rise in ‘fashionable’ breeds of dog (often owned by celebrities who post pictures, posing with their pooch on social media), an increase in demand for certain breeds has followed. Pugs, Cockapoos, French Bulldogs, Shih Tzus and Chihuahuas are just some of the breeds currently in high demand. Dogs such a these are targets for thieves who know that they can sell one quickly.

© By DK1k - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
French bulldogs are particularly popular, and are a target for thieves.

Responsible owners take all the recommended steps to safeguard their dog, including microchipping, never leaving him unattended, and keeping him on a lead. However, thieves are increasingly targeting private gardens, as well as stealing from reputable breeders’ property by breaking in to take puppies, some so young that they should not leave their mother. This is heartbreaking for the unsuspecting owner or breeder who believed their dogs or puppies were safe.
Dog fighting, although banned in the UK, along with the owning of fighting dogs, still takes place in secret, and dogs can be stolen for the distressing purpose of being taught to fight, or used as bait to train other dogs.

© Dogslost

Above, just a selection of posts from ‘’ in the last few weeks. Dogslost is the UK’s largest lost and found service.

Campaigners have petitioned to call on the Government to make pet theft a specific crime, rather than being treated as ‘property theft.’ Given the heartbreak and suffering it causes to both owners and dogs, the punishment, they believe, should fit the crime, and regarded differently. The animal group Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (Sampa) campaigns for tougher legislation on pet theft, and compulsory microchipping. A glance at its website shows the scale of missing pets, with many French Bulldogs and Labrador Retrievers missing, as well as other breeds. Although focussed on dogs, some cats are also stolen, especially pedigree breeds, so the same caution is required by owners of feline companions.
The RSPCA has produced a helpful checklist reminding owners of the dangers, and how we can protect our dogs, and keep them safe during this period of increased theft:


In the current climate of increased dog theft, please keep yours safe and protected, whether at home or when out and about.

A campaigning message from #PetTheftReform shared on social media and by © SAMPA