Dog theft has been on the rise in the UK with research showing that thieves strike an average of six times a day. A total of 2,160 dogs were reported stolen in 2022, with American bulldogs being the most commonly targeted breed, accounting for 90 of the total. The next most targeted breeds were Staffordshire bull terriers and French bulldogs, followed by Chihuahuas, German shepherds, and Jack Russells. Only one in four stolen dogs were returned to their owners, and this number may not reflect the true scale of the problem, as many cases go unreported.
Police forces in Leicestershire, the West Midlands, and Devon and Cornwall reported increases in dog theft in recent years. Leicestershire Police reported the biggest increase in the crime, up from 24 in 2015 to 75 last year. The stolen dogs may be used for breeding, trained for illegal dog fighting, or sold as pets for around half the price a legitimate breeder would charge. Owners are being advised to have their pets microchipped and neutered to increase the chances of them being returned if stolen and to remove thieves' incentives to steal them.
Charities are also advising owners to take precautions, such as not leaving their dogs tied up outside shops, in empty vehicles, or keeping them on a lead when in busy areas to reduce the likelihood of being targeted. Direct Line Pet Insurance's research shows a 22% decrease in the total number of dogs stolen last year compared to the previous year, which may be linked to a reduced demand for pet dogs overall. This is supported by the fact that the charity Dogs Trust received 50% more rehoming inquiries in January to November 2022 than in the same period in 2021.
Dog theft is a significant concern for pet owners, with stolen dogs causing a great deal of distress and heartbreak to both pets and their owners. According to the PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report 2021, 48% of UK households own a pet, and dogs are the most popular pets, with 26% of households owning one or more dogs. Therefore, incidents like dog theft can have a significant impact on a large number of people in the UK. It is crucial to raise awareness of this issue and to take necessary precautions to prevent pet theft.
The increase in dog theft in the UK is a cause for concern for pet owners. Owners must take necessary precautions to protect their pets from theft, such as having their pets microchipped and neutered, not leaving their dogs tied up outside shops, and keeping them on a lead when in busy areas. Dog theft can have a significant impact on both pets and their owners, causing distress and heartbreak. Raising awareness of this issue is crucial to prevent pet theft and protect pets and their owners.