What’s On Blog

Dog theft on the rise: what we can do to prevent it

30th July

One of the better news stories to come out of Covid-19 was the emptying of animal shelters across the UK. But sadly, there’s a flip side to this: with high demand for faithful companions to see us through these uncertain times, dog theft is on the rise.

According to DogLost, they’ve experienced a 65% increase in reports of dog-napping compared with 2019, and they’re just one of many ‘lost and found’ services across the UK. While some criminals are targeting dog walkers, others are taking it a step further and breaking into Boarding Kennels – Cosy Kennels in Stretham and Barton Mills in Suffolk have both fallen victim, having 20 dogs stolen between them in July alone.

Here at Wild at Heart Foundation, we can’t imagine anything worse. While, thankfully, such crimes remain few and far between, it can’t hurt to be a little extra vigilant. Here’s how we’ll be taking extra precautions to prevent dog theft:

Leaving your dog unattended

Leaving them alone in a car or tied up outside a shop leaves our dogs vulnerable to opportunistic thieves. Instead, leave them at home or arrange a friend, or family member, to sit with them while you pop into the shop.


It’s law that all dogs must be microchipped by 8 weeks of age but it’s crucial to keep the details updated, whether that’s a new contact number or change of address. Should the worst happen, this will prove invaluable in reuniting you and your dog.

ID tags

It’s also law that your dog must wear a collar and ID tag while out and about in public, but again, be vigilant with what information you include. Your phone number and address are key but leave off your dog’s name: this only makes it easier for thieves to steal your beloved companion and fake ownership of them.

Do your due diligence 

While we’re all about ‘adopt don’t shop’ here at Wild at Heart Foundation, we understand that some people will still turn to breeders to find their next faithful companion. If so, you too can help prevent dog theft by doing your due diligence: insist on meeting the parents and make sure you receive all the necessary paperwork. Both steps are crucial, otherwise you could be buying someone else’s stolen dog.


Here at Wild at Heart Foundation, our camera rolls are full of our dogs doing cute things…you might even find a few selfies with our dogs! Having clear, varied photos will help should your dog ever go missing and, similarly, photos of you with your dog will help prove ownership should it ever get to that stage.

Keeping them safe at home

Try not to leave your dog outside unattended even if they are avid sunbathers. Instead, keep them in view at all times and be wary of people sneaking in through side gates or over fences – why not purchase an alarm to alert you to visitors, for added peace of mind.

Keeping them safe on walkies

Be wary of strangers asking questions about your dog and never, ever hand them over even under the ruse of wanting to pet or play with them. Although trickier in the hot weather, do try to vary the times and locations of walkies, preventing you and your companion becoming ‘easy’ targets.


Sadly, kennels have become targets for organised criminals looking to make money from selling these dogs on. So don’t be afraid to ask about CCTV and how regularly the animals are checked.


If the worst happens and you and your dog become separated, it’s important to act quickly. Here are the people to contact:

  • Police: According to the Missing Pets Bureau, 38% of all animals reported ‘lost’ were actually stolen, so insist the Police record it as theft and not merely a missing animal.
  • Local authorities, such as your local council and dog warden.
  • Walkers: Go to local parks and public places and speak to fellow dog walkers, taking photographs with you.
  • Microchip database: By alerting the database, they will flag should anyone try to re-register your dog’s microchip number.
  • Local vets
  • Local shelters
  • Lost and found websites: Dog Lost, Animal Search UK, National Pet Register, and Pets Reunited are just a few.


It’s a sad fact that such crimes are often the symptom of something more positive, like the huge number of dogs who have found forever homes in recent months. And while no dog – whether pedigree or rescue – is immune to theft, it’s important that us dog lovers look out for one another. So if you see anything suspicious, don’t be afraid to report it by calling 101 and sharing the information in your local area.

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