Thousands of pets are stolen every year in the UK, and with the demand for pets at an all-time high during the pandemic, this figure has dramatically increased. Here are some practical steps you can take to protect your pets from falling victim to theft.
Staying at home during the pandemic has meant that everyone has had more time to dedicate to our beloved pets, and the freedom to adopt a new member of the family. Over the past year, pet adoptions and purchases have soared, with animal charity Battersea publishing record amounts of pet adoptions last year, and prices for newborn puppies rising to over £1,000 per dog, with months-long waiting lists.
For many, spending quality time with and raising animal companions has been a welcome distraction from the pandemic, and as remote working seems to be here to stay, many also now have the flexibility needed to be able to commit to taking on a pet.
Unfortunately, the increasing demand for pets has also caused an increase in pet thefts across the UK. Every year over 2,000 pets are stolen, with statistics from Missing Pet's Bureau showing that up to 60% of pets never return to their original owners.
During the pandemic, this figure has increased, with pet thefts reportedly rising by 250% across the UK, an issue that has prompted Nottinghamshire Police to appoint a specific officer to tackle dog thefts.
Pet theft has become a problem in the UK and it's unlikely to go away any time soon. In order to protect your pet, here are some practical tips you can take to ensure their safety.
Get your pets chipped
To some, chipping your pet might seem cruel, but it's a vital part of keeping them safe. If anything were to happen to them, theft or otherwise, a simple scan of the chip will let the vets know to whom they belong. If your pet is stolen, this will help the police and vets identify your pet if it did show up, and will make it harder for criminals to sell your pet on. This is particularly useful for cats, who might roam about the neighbourhood at all hours and are more vulnerable to theft.
Put your contact details on your pet's collar
Just like chipping your pet, putting your contact details on their collar lets people know that they do have a home, and if they were ever to be stolen and abandoned, it means someone can contact you should they be found.
Ensure that your garden is secure
If it's not the time for a walk, many people open the back door and let their dog roam around the garden. If you do this, then you should ensure that just like your house, your garden is secure. Keep your gate locked whenever your dog is in the garden and ensure that you are keeping an eye on them.
Avoid letting your dog off the lead - except where you can see them
Avoid letting your dog off the lead when you are walking in places where they could easily run out of your sight, but also in places such as pet shops. Thefts can happen extremely quickly, whilst you're looking at a brand of pet food or distracted whilst talking with your friend on a walk in the woods. Make sure you only let your dog off the lead if they are well trained and/or in an area where you can easily spot them.
Avoid leaving your dog tied up outside a shop or in your car
Even if you are just nipping in to get the paper and some milk, don't risk leaving your dog tied up outside, or leave them in your car. It only takes a few seconds for someone unscrupulous to untie your dog and leave the scene, and it's not worth the risk.
Keep up-to-date photos of your pet, including distinguishing marks
Keep up-to-date photos of your pet, including distinguishing marks, such as a pattern in the fur, or a curved tail. You should also keep basic medical records of your pet so you know details such as their average weight and age. If you don't have this written down, you can request this information from your vet.
Be mindful of the information you share with strangers
Everyone loves a friendly chat with strangers whilst on a walk, but be careful of the information you give out about your pets, especially if you just bought a pet for a large amount of money.
Arrange adequate insurance
Insurance may not prevent the loss of your dog, but it might help with the financial loss if you've paid a significant sum for your pet. You should check the small print carefully though, because not all pet policies provide cover for theft. It's worth digging deeper to make sure that you have the cover you want before you sign up.
Some of these measures may seem extreme but considered together, they could help protect your pet from the risk of theft and shield you from the distress of finding your pet missing.
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