The latest figures released by insurer Direct Line report that dog thefts in England and Wales fell by 23% in 2019 (approximately 600 fewer dogs being stolen than in 2018).
However, there has also been a reported 65% increase in the number of dogs reported to charity DogLost as being stolen between March 23rd and June 1st, 2020 as the Covid-19 lockdown began. There also seem to have been clusters of thefts, notably in East Anglia where thieves are reported to have left chalk marks to identify houses with dogs. Although this has not been confirmed, it was also reported in 2018 in Scotland.
Whether chalk marks are being used or not, it is certain that dogs are stolen every day, mostly for re-sale or for use as breeding dogs in puppy farms. Direct Line report that just 22% of stolen dogs were returned to their owners in 2019 and this number seems to be falling.
The honest truth is that owners want dogs in hurry and will buy from websites and other dubious sources without making any checks. Although a campaign was instigated to get vets to check chips after the daughter of the late Bruce Forsyth had two dogs stolen. However, vets have a primary duty to care for dogs, not to act as an unpaid police force. There are simply too few resources put into Dog Wardens to police even the microchipping law systematically and effectively.
There are simple precautions that can be taken to prevent theft:
- Do not leave dogs unattended in cars or outside shops
- Train good recall and pay attention to your dog when out on walks
- Do not leave dogs unattended in gardens or kennels
- Keep your microchip database up to date.