Today, Monday 14th March, marks the start of Pet Theft Awareness Week 2022 when prevention and advice will be top of the agenda. The purpose of this week is to increase awareness amongst pet owners of this terrible crime and the ways you can reduce your risk of falling victim to it and its devastating consequences.
The NAWT has been a long-term supporter of this campaign and its efforts to make pet theft a crime in its own right. Therefore, we were very pleased when it was reported in September 2021 that a new criminal offence of Pet Abduction is set to be introduced by the Government. This new offence will no longer treat a stolen pet as a 'loss of property' to the owner but recognise pets as sentient beings who can suffer considerable emotional distress at the hands of thieves.
This planned legislative change will create a stronger deterrent to thieves, which we welcome, but it sadly won’t eradicate the problem. Particularly following the pandemic, which saw the public’s interest in dog ownership soar and the price of certain breeds skyrocket with it.
No one is safe from this crime, which hits families, the very young and elderly. The loss of a companion and family member is devastating, so we urge pet owners to remain vigilant. No one ever thinks dog theft will happen to them - until it does!
A few very simple reminders to help you keep your dog safe are:
- Make sure your microchip registration is up to date with your contact information - unregistered microchipped lost and stray pets can be legally rehomed after seven days.
- Never leave your dog tied up outside a shop, unattended in your car or your garden.
- Vary your route and times of your walk and never let your dog out of your sight.
- More dogs are stolen from gardens, so please check your home security.
- Stay aware, stay alert and stay safe.
For more thorough advice, please download a copy of our Pet Theft Awareness Pack.
If the worst happens and your dog or cat is stolen, then you have two options to report the crime:
- Contact the Police on 999 if you witnessed the theft.
- Contact the Police on 101 if you suspect your dog or cat has been stolen.
You should also use the following methods to try to retrieve your pet:
- Report your dog as missing to the local animal warden.
- Register on the free Doglost.co.uk website.
- Call local veterinary clinics and rescue centres.
- Share the details on social media – seek help with your search from your local community.
The NAWT is also supporting #FernsLaw campaign to ‘Make it compulsory to check microchip registration at pets first veterinary treatment to reunite sold on missing dogs and cats’.
After the successful petition and debate in Parliament last year, the campaign was included in the Government consultation on Cat and Dog microchip and scanning. The results showing:
Q8. Do you think veterinarians should be required to scan cats and dogs upon first presentation?
99% (10,749) of responses to this question agreed that it should be compulsory for vets to scan cats and dogs upon first presentation. 1% (141) of responses disagreed.
Q9. If Yes, how should this requirement be enforced?
83% (8,987) of responses to this question considered that legal obligation should be imposed to ensure that cats and dogs are scanned at first presentation.
The #FernsLaw campaign team had a meeting with Lord Goldsmith and Defra in December 2021, which they left with a feeling of support.
They believe there will be another Government consultation, so watch this space as we may need your help to support this important campaign that works to reunite more lost pets with their rightful owner.