The Covid-19 lockdown has seen an unprecedented demand for puppies and this, coupled with a significant percentage of breeders not breeding during these uncertain times, has meant there has been a shortfall in availability. These circumstances have driven up the price of puppies to previously unknown heights.
As always when there is an increased demand for certain commodities, we find that unscrupulous people will try to take advantage and make money out of the situation. In this case, by stealing puppies and older dogs to sell on to unknowing prospective buyers or other unscrupulous people with their ideas of how to make money from the dogs.
There are generally four main reasons for a dog to be stolen:
For resale – thieves can create a back story, sometimes even a rather feeble one, and owners are not always careful enough in their checks and end up purchasing stolen pets. Puppies are particularly attractive.
For ransom – stolen dogs are often held for ransom and loving owners will pay hundreds, even thousands to have them returned.
For breeding – stolen dogs are often sold on to puppy farms when thieves discover that they are suitable for breeding. This fact is particularly true for the more valuable breeds such as dachshunds, French bulldogs and any of the popular cute fluffy pedigrees that are used to create cross-breeds. Unfortunately, puppy farms are notoriously horrible places for dogs to have to survive in.
As bait dogs – this is perhaps the most gruesome reason for stealing. Dogfighting is illegal, but still practised in secret across the UK. People who participate in this activity use stolen dogs to train their fighting dogs.
So we must do everything we can to protect our puppies and dogs, but how can we do this?
Try and resist all the pictures on social media, particularly Instagram. As an example, the hashtag #newpuppy is easy to search on and additional information may be available to a potential thief. Such a hashtag if found on someone’s Facebook page ensures the dog thief can start to home in on where a new puppy lives.
Change the privacy settings on your social media accounts if necessary or, better still, create an account for the pup without any links back to the owner.
Be careful of who knows about the pup in its new home. It is sad to say, but valuable information is sometimes sold on by the people you might least suspect. Be aware of unknown callers or delivery people.
General Doggy Safety
- Never leave pups alone in the garden, no matter how secure a garden seems. Over 50% of all dogs stolen are taken from the owner’s garden. Top up the security of all the areas you keep the dog in.
- Never leave dogs alone in the car – puppies can be easily spotted and are particularly easy prey.
- Vary your walks and don’t stick to the same routes and times. Be wary of strangers approaching.
- Be cautious of people showing a lot of interest in your dog; particularly asking for its name.
- Be wary of vehicles, particularly vans, that have parked up ahead of the route you are taking. Be prepared to change direction.
- Don’t let the puppy venture too far away and do not let it out of your sight.
- Never leave a puppy tied up outside a shop or other building.
- Ensure the dog’s microchip is up to date. In the unfortunate case of the dog being stolen, this is the best chance of the dog being returned safely to its owner.
- Ensure anyone who cares for the pup or dog, such as family members, dog walkers and dog sitters are also applying the same vigilance.
Karen Boyce is the owner of Beastly Thoughts Professional Dog Service (BTPDS), the largest pet dog training establishment in Wales. BTPDS specialise in puppy training and reactive dogs, but offer a whole host of obedience training classes, lectures, webinars and online training hubs and groups. Karen was named Animal Star Awards Dog Trainer/Behaviourist of the Year in 2019.