A recent survey of over 100,000 pet owners found dognapping to be the fastest growing crime: a shocking rise in the number of such crimes is only set to escalate into the summer as dognapping becomes more common in warmer months.

The Missing Pets Bureau (MPB) found that dogs are most at risk in the south east of England, and that the most targeted breeds are Staffordshire Bull Terriers, cross breeds, Jack Russells and Labradors; in fact a third of all stolen dogs turn out to be cross breeds, according to this research. Unsurprisingly, dogs are apparently five times more likely to be stolen than cats a relief for those who are cat people, but many breeds’ notorious friendliness means they are prey to unscrupulous new ‘friends’. ‘Staffordshire Bull Terriers are the most targeted breed, but it is no longer just pedigrees being stolen,’ says Rupert Honywood from the Missing Pets Bureau.

‘Criminals now use owners’ personal details on dogs’ ID tags to levy ransoms, so it makes no difference whether they have a resale value or not. For the owner it is the worst thing you can have to go through.’Concerned dog owners can protect their pet with free ID tags from the MPB, which provide 24 hours support through an emergency hotline and prevent ransoming by only disclosing owners’ details to authorities, although many experts also recommend that these are used in conjunction with both microchips and DNA identification. DNA Identification has been developed specifically to combat dognapping. It works through the dog’s DNA being stored alongside a signed witness statement which gives absolute proof of ownership.

The scheme is designed to deter thieves from taking dogs in the first place. Other ways of preventing dognapping involve using common sense, and remaining aware of your and your dog’s environment: owners are advised to be on their guard at all times, particularly at this time of year. Advice includes:

  • Never leave your dog unattended in public places
  • Never leave your dog in the car – whether it is locked or not
  • Be especially careful with puppies and new dogs – dogs are three times as likely to go missing under 12-months-old
  • Keep your garden secure and the gates locked
  • When posting a reward, never specify an amount and always use Missing Pets Bureau’s contact number (08701 999 000)
  • Make sure your dog is wearing a properly marked ID tag
  • Ask Missing Pets Bureau for a FREE pet ID tag by calling 0800 0198 123
  • Make sure your dog is microchipped
  • Find out about about DNA identification

    Losing a dog can be a traumatic experience for all involved, and owners should be determined to make it as difficult as possible for those who would steal dogs, and ransom them, or sell them on, or indeed use those animals for committing further crimes. Registering with the Missing Pets Bureau is increasingly the popular way to ensure some kind of safety for your dogs, particularly when you cannot be with them every minute of every day.For more information, visit the Missing Pets Bureau website at www.missingpetsbureau.com.