There is a sinister side effect to the coronavirus pandemic, which is the stuff of nightmares for 24% of the UK population*. Dog theft has spiralled out of control.
According to a Pets4Homes Industry Report, at the peak in May 2020, demand for pets soared to 104% above 2019 levels. That increased demand has seen the average price for dogs more than double, with puppies of some of the more popular breeds selling for £3,000 to £4,000.
Where reputable breeders and rescues have been unable to meet that increase in demand, the path has sadly been opened up for puppy farmers and dealers, the very people that the ground-breaking Lucy’s Law was developed to stop in their tracks.
Covid-19 guidance enabled those profiteering from the puppy explosion to do exactly what Lucy’s Law was designed to outlaw, such as selling puppies without the purchaser seeing the mum or the breeding premises and puppies being delivered to homes or handed over in car parks.
Sadly, where there is demand, there will be supply, and doggy dealing has become a very attractive proposition as the prices that new owners are willing to pay soar. In fact, according to a BBC article, puppy pedalling has become a more lucrative trade than drug dealing for some who are reportedly making millions of pounds from their activities.
Moreover, the government continues to refuse to classify dog theft as a crime in its own right, resulting in it being considered no more serious than the theft of a wallet or mobile phone. Any owner knows that the impact of their dog being stolen is so much greater, both emotionally and psychologically.
Dog thieves are targeting homes with specific breeds of dogs or litters of puppies, but they don’t stop there, they are also targeting breeders’ or working dog kennels and even boarding kennels. A lot of thought and planning is going into these organised raids with heart-breaking results for innocent pet parents.
Such is the lure of making fast money that thieves are even assaulting people walking their dogs. There are horrendous stories of dog walkers being punched in the face or knocked to the ground whilst their beloved pet is stolen in broad daylight.
Dog owners do not want to live in fear of thieves, but we should all be taking extra precautions at present. NAWT’s Pet Theft Awareness Pack has advice on how to prevent your dog from being stolen and what to do should the worst happen.
If you are thinking of buying a dog, please avoid being part of this problem by making sure you are buying from a reputable source and not fuelling organised crime. NAWT’s Puppy Buyer’s Checklist will help you make the right decisions.
Finally, if you passionately agree that dog theft should be made a specific criminal offence, you can sign this government petition.
Please stay safe and keep your dogs safe.
* 24% of the UK population own a dog pdsa-paw-report-2020.pdf p.10