It’s every pet owner’s worst nightmare – the thought your pet could be stolen whilst on a walk or from your own garden. How big a problem is pet theft and how common is it really? We take a look at this growing problem and how to keep you and your pet safe.

Who is most at risk from pet theft?

Pet FBI, a US-based pet charity, estimates around 2 million pets are stolen every year and only 10% are ever returned home.

As the economy fluctuates, pet theft becomes a bigger problem. Lucrative and relatively risk-free, thieves see it as a quick and easy way to make money. Dogs are still the most targeted pet mainly because they are easy to sell, and easy to nab on walks, tied up outside shops, or left in cars. Unneutered, purebred, breeding age dogs are most at risk, but your dog may end up being used for any number of illegal activities other than breeding, so all dogs are potential victims. 

Criminals are also catching on to the possibility of stealing pets for ransom, so any beloved pet – regardless of species or breed – is at risk.

There is also an increasing trend towards animals being stolen for research and experimentation. Again, this is a concern to all pet owners, not just dog owners.

How can I prevent pet theft?

Never leave your pet tied up outside – even in your own front garden or unfenced back garden – and certainly never outside shops or pubs or in your car. An unattended dog is an easy target, especially if your dog is friendly, so please just don’t do it.

Take a different route and vary the time of your dog walks – a predictable routine makes you an easy target and keep an eye out for people watching you or strangers starting conversations about your dog. If it feels ‘off’ to you, just walk away – better to offend a stranger than put yourself and your dog in danger. Report anything suspicious to the police.

Monitor your outside pets – there are lots of options when it comes to keeping an eye on your outside pets, from smart kennels for pets with GPS technology to simple wall mounted cameras. Keep your garden secure and using security lights will deter any kind of thief from entering your property. 

Pet theft is a horrible thing to have to think about, but it is on the rise, so be careful and take appropriate steps to keep yourself and your pet safe.