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Crime prevention advice issued to dog owners

Dorset Police is issuing some crime prevention advice to dog owners to prevent future dog theft incidents in the county.

There have been a number of dog theft stories circulating on social media and in the media over the last year, which has led to growing concern among owners both locally and nationally.

While nationally dog theft cases increased by 170 per cent in 2020, reported dog theft offences in Dorset fell between 2017 and 2019 from 35 to 22 and rose slightly to 26 cases in 2020. Between 1 January 2021 and 31 March 2021, there have been four confirmed dog thefts in the county. 

Chief Superintendent Mark Callaghan, of Dorset Police, said: “We fully understand the emotional impact that this kind of crime has on dog owners and the wider community and we take such reports very seriously and investigate any legitimate lines of enquiry. Thankfully over the last couple of years we have been able to locate some stolen dogs as a result of our investigations and reunite them with their owners.

“Dog theft remains relatively low in Dorset, but we are asking owners to do their bit to help protect their pets and prevent offences from occurring in the first place.”

To help reunite lost and stolen dogs with their families, the Force is urging owners to visit their vet, have their pet microchipped and ensure all contact details are kept up-to-date in the event of moving home or changing a phone number. Microchipping is not only a legal requirement, but is essential in helping to return pets back to their rightful owners.

Other tips include: 

• Do not leave your dog unattended if possible. Dogs can be easily stolen from back gardens, vehicles or from outside premises. 
• Assess your home and garden boundaries – how easy is it to walk in or climb over your fence? Apart from the obvious fencing, where possible put up trellis on top or against wooden fencing, to make it harder to climb over. 
• Gates and entrances need to be locked, and ideally any kennels or pens should not be visible from the street. 
• All dogs should wear a collar with identification when in public. Don’t put your dog’s name on the tag, just a surname and contact number. 
• If your dog is neutered, it will reduce the chances of the dog being stolen for breeding. 
• Change the times and location of where you walk and make sure that your dog is not out of sight.  
• Make sure any kennels or outhouses that dogs are kept in are as secure as possible by fitting a good quality padlock with security lighting, alarms and CCTV. 

It’s important to establish if your dog has been stolen or is lost. If your dog has gone missing from your garden, please check with your neighbours and ask them to check their gardens and garages. If you still cannot find your dog, check with the local dog warden, tell the microchip company your dog is missing and call local vets and rescue centres.

In the unlikely event that your dog has been stolen, and someone is physically taking your dog from you, shout that your dog is being stolen to attract attention. If you can, take photos or videos and report it to the police by calling 999. If there are any witnesses nearby, ask for their contact details and report your missing dog to the microchip company straight away. 

David Sidwick, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I know both from talking to people across our county and from national surveys that this is of huge concern and, although dog theft itself is thankfully rare, it needs to be addressed.

“As Police and Crime Commissioner I am already working on an action plan to deal with this problem, but part of the solution is to improve our awareness of how to reduce our pet’s vulnerability. So please, follow these simple steps and let’s help make it harder for our dogs to be taken.”

More information about dog safety can be found at www.dorset.police.uk/dogsafety 

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