The Covid-19 pandemic has been happening in the UK for nearly a year now, and as a result, there has seen a surge in dog theft.
As the UK was plunged into lockdown in March, many people sought to buy a puppy to keep them company. Due to the huge rise in demand, puppies can be sold for as much as £3750 each, and so dog theft has worryingly risen as a result.
Lynne Ormsby, Leeds resident, had her Chihuahua, Hugo, stolen at the beginning of January after a man walked him for her.
The man returned without Lynne’s dog and told Lynne three different accounts of what happened, including that Hugo was scared of a firework so ran away.
“He was chipped and had a tag on his collar which was removed,” Lynne said.
But, fortunately, after a big Facebook Search, Lynne got Hugo back. And after a trip to the vet, he was safe and healthy. “A dog is a part of the family, not to be taken and sold,” She said.
Justine Quirk, a volunteer for DogLost, said: “For 2019 compared to 2020, unfortunately, we’ve seen a 175% increase in dog theft. And those are just the DogLost statistics so obviously, not everybody uses DogLost and maybe more people use DogLost now than have done in the past because they are becoming more aware of the service that we provide. But that figure in itself is quite shocking.”
The rise in theft is seen as a direct result of the demand for pooches. Opportunists have unfortunately seen this as a quick money-making scheme and with little consequence for their actions, it seems to be getting worse.
Dani Guinsberg, a dog theft campaigner, said “The law, as it stands, is not harsh enough.
“There’s a petition to make pet theft a much higher sentence crime. But the government’s response is that there is a punishable offence in place, which is seven years, but the reality is only 1% of dog thefts end in jail time.
“They need to make the sentencing more custodial and mandatory so that dog thieves need to believe that they’re definitely going to get jailed for seven years.”
Joe Nutkins, Dog Trainer, gave his top tips to keep your pet safe.
“Don’t leave your pet unattended in the garden. It takes seconds for someone to go through your gate and take your dog.
“On walks, be aware of your surroundings, such as where you are walking to, if there are vehicles stopping nearby, who is about?
“Consider changing your walks where you can. Time of walk, length of walk and direction. Having too much of a routine could potentially help a thief plan where and how to forcibly take your dog.
“Ensure that your dog does have its microchip, which is the law to have, and puppies typically leave the breeder already chipped.”
As well as this, the RSPCA say that you should “never leave your dog outside a shop on his own or in a car unattended, train your dog to come back when called, and never let them off the lead if you’re not sure they’ll come back to you.”