How to prevent your pet being stolen

Discovering your pet has gone missing and never knowing what happened to them must be an owner’s worst nightmare.

We want to share our advice on steps you can take to try to prevent your pet going missing and keep them as safe as possible. It's important to always remain vigilant, and take the extra precautionary steps needed to keep them protected.

Preventative tips for dog owners

There are many different reasons why dogs may be stolen:

  • Ransom – many owners will offer a reward with no questions asked.
  • To order – particularly pedigree dogs for breeding or for export.
  • Dog fighting – it is alleged that some dogs are taken as bait for dog fighting.
  • Selling on – the internet makes this an easy, anonymous task.
  • Breeding – either as puppy farm stock or just to make money selling puppies.

There are so many different scenarios where your dog can disappear, so it’s a good idea to make yourself familiar with them, so you can take extra measures to avoid this ever happening.

  • 16% of dogs are taken from owners who are out on a walk. It is a good idea to vary the times that you walk, and the routes you take. Make sure to be aware of strangers asking questions about your dog. Ensure your dog’s recall is perfected before letting them off the lead, and always keep them in eyesight.
  • Over 50% of dogs are taken from owner’s gardens. Please make sure your garden is secure, and that no-one can enter without your knowledge. Do not ever leave your dog unsupervised in the garden, even if you’re confident nothing can happen, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Remember, it only takes seconds to carry a dog over the fence.
  • 19% of dogs are taken from breaking into homes. It may be worth considering CCTV or sensor lighting as a deterrent. For added security, make sure your fence is at least 6ft tall, making it harder for thieves to have a quick getaway. Be aware if anyone has been watching your movements, i.e. times you leave the house unattended.
  • 7% of dog thefts are dogs that have been tied outside shops or other premises. You wouldn’t leave a laptop outside unattended, so why would you leave your dog?
  • Leaving your dog in your vehicle also makes it easier for thieves, even if you leave for just a few minutes. 5% of all stolen dogs have been taken from cars or vans.
  • 50% of dogs stolen are puppies or young adults. Be extra vigilant if you have a pregnant bitch or a litter of puppies. Especially if you have advertised the puppies for sale, thieves will stop at nothing to steal a whole litter of puppies to sell. Having your dog neutered will reduce the risk of a dog being stolen for breeding purposes.

Statistics from Pet Theft Census

Extra steps you can take.

  • Ensure your pet’s microchip details are up to date.
  • You might want to consider a pet tracker so you can track your pet’s whereabouts.
  • Ensure your dog always wears a collar with a tag. We would advise against putting your dog’s name on the tag, as a friendly dog could easily be enticed away if its name is called.
  • It is also a good idea to use neutral colours when choosing harnesses and collars to try and not make the gender obvious. Female dogs are at greater risk, since they can be used for breeding, so try to avoid pink for example.
  • Choose a dog walker, dog sitter or boarding kennels carefully. Ideally take recommendations from people you trust and do ask for and check any references.

Preventative tips for cat owners

Although it is not spoken about as much, there is still always a chance your cat could be stolen if it goes missing, especially if it is an expensive breed. Here are our tips on precautionary measures you can take.

  • Ensure your cat’s microchip details are up to date. From the 10th of June 2024, it will become a legal requirement to get your cat microchipped.
  • If you move house, keep your cat in for a while whilst they acclimatise the new smells.
  • Try to always keep a collar on your cat, if possible, with a bell so then you can hear them more easily.