In a special interview to mark 'Dog Theft Awareness Day' on 14th March 2018, and 'Pet Theft Awareness Week' taking place from 14th – 21st March 2018, we talk to Richard Jordan from the Pet Theft Awareness organisation about what he does, what he can do to help you if your dog is stolen, and some tips to prevent the theft of your beloved pet.
1. When was your organisation set up and what does it do on a day-to-day basis?
Pet Theft Awareness was formed in January 2013 with a view to highlighting the crime, and campaign for a law change to recognise the harm caused by having a family member stolen.We organise two annual campaigns: 'Pet Theft Awareness Week' in March, and 'Gundog Theft Awareness Week' in October.During our five years in operation, we helped form SAMPA, the 'Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance' which campaigns in parliament with the backing of supportive MPs. This includes the 'Dog Theft Awareness Day' (March 14th) which we held in parliament last year thanks to the invitation from Gareth Johnson MP and his team. On a daily basis we share social-media posts to help search for missing and stolen animals.
2. What’s the most common scenario you encounter surrounding a stolen dog?
We've looked at a mixture of data from insurance claims, police reports, and DogLost entries and it would appear that about half of all stolen dogs are taken from gardens. Over the past few years we've seen kennels being targeted for high-value breeds. It is also very worrying to hear that entire litters of puppies have been taken from houses either during burglaries, or even stolen using force during viewings. We always advise that you are never alone when strangers visit and you find out as much as you can about any potential buyers before they are at your doorstep.'Theft by Finding' is also a major issue where 'stray' pets are re-homed without any effort made to find the real owner! If you find a dog you must report it to your council dog warden as soon as you can. Unfortunately there is no microchip scanning legislation which means that found and stolen dogs can be rehomed without their microchip ever being checked! This is an issue we want to see changed so that more stolen pets get returned to their real owners.
3. Is dog theft on the rise, what are the reasons that a dog might be stolen?
The data we have suggests that the theft of dogs is on the rise. Currently 'Dog Theft' is not a specific recognised crime which means that constabularies might record a litter of puppies as one theft alongside other 'objects'. Astonishingly 'Bike Theft' is a specific crime, but the theft of a beloved irreplaceable pet is lumped in with the theft of general objects. We are working to get legislation so that pets have a legal status above the likes of lawnmowers and laptops. Dogs are stolen for several reasons but we believe most dogs are stolen for resale or because somebody doesn't want to pay for a new pet. For victimsm the biggest fear is that their stolen pets are being mistreated and used for breeding or baiting.
4. Does social media help or hinder the search for stolen dogs?
Facebook and Twitter help find many stolen dogs, but unfortunately many stolen dogs are sold through Facebook sites. It's a double edged sword but at least there are organisations such as DogLost who will trawl sites where dogs are sold in the search for missing pets.