'Protect your pooch': Neighbourhood Watch launch anti-dog theft campaign after canines stolen across Derbyshire
A ‘protect your pooch’ campaign has been set up by Neighbourhood Watch to prevent dog thefts across the UK, after a number of canines were also taken from Derbyshire.
The two-week awareness initiative will run from today (Monday, May 17) to Sunday, May 30 encouraging people to keep their pets secure, in sight and ‘searchable’ following a rise in dog thefts in the UK.
Derbyshire Police confirmed that 30 canines had been stolen from their owners across the county last year, along with a ‘significant’ increase in people buying dogs during the pandemic which they believe has fuelled the surge in thefts.
Crimestoppers and the Met Police have backed the ‘protect your pooch’ campaign and are calling for pet theft to become a specific criminal offence.
DogLost, a UK charity that helps victims of dog theft, recorded a 170% increase in the crime, from 172 dogs reported stolen in 2019 to 465 dogs in 2020.
According to a survey conducted by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne in partnership with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, 27,440 people have had a dog stolen or knew someone who had over the last year.
A total of 79% of people to whom the question was applicable said they had grown more fearful of taking their dog for a walk during the day and 83% had grown more fearful of taking their dog for a walk at night.
Neighbourhood Watch are urging dog owners to keep their pooches secure and reminding them that pets are easily stolen from gardens when left unattended.
Instead, people should fit a bell or gate alarm to any rear or side gates which should also be fitted with locks and bolts.
To reduce their chances of becoming a victim of dog theft, owners should also be careful of sharing or publicly posting details of where they live and the type of dog they have on social media.
Canines should not be left unattended in a car, particularly on warm days as it is dangerous for their health and allows them to be easily targeted by thieves.
Pet owners are also advised not to leave their dog alone outside a shop, to make sure their dog returns when called and be careful of allowing them off the lead in unfamiliar areas.
If a stranger asks a lot of questions about a dog while on a walk, owners should be aware that they could be being distracted as part of a theft attempt.
Dog owners are also encouraged to make sure their pet is microchipped with the correct details on the pet registration databases, along with making sure their canine is fitted with a collar that features your surname and contact number – not the name of the dog.
A dog theft webinar will be held online on May, 27 at 5pm with speakers from the Met Police and Crimestoppers, as well as Katy Bourne, Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex.