Man’s best friend has become a more popular target in ‘dognapping’ incidents over the last few months.
No dogs are immune to theft as they are stolen for a number of reasons; pets that haven’t been neutered or spayed may be sold to puppy mills or backyard breeders, popular or expensive dog breeds are resold and some dogs, particularly power breeds, are sold to dog fighting rings either as a fighter or bait.
In light of the recent increase in reports of stolen dogs, we have compiled a list of precautions to take to reduce the chance of having your dog stolen, as well as what to do if your dog is stolen.
Safety Tips for protecting your dog:
1. REGULARLY CHECK THE INTEGRITY OF YOUR FENCE
One of the more obvious tips – securing your perimeter with a strong, high fence that makes it difficult for thieves to get access to your property. It also is important to conduct regular checks of your fencing, ensuring that it has not been damaged in any way. Fencing can also be enhanced with spikes or electric fencing for maximum security.
2. SECTIONING OFF YOUR PROPERTY
Most dogs are stolen at night or in the early hours of the morning. Allowing your dog to sleep inside is, therefore, the ideal solution. Doing so provides them with safety from theft or poisoning and it still allows them to protect you and your family. If your dog isn’t allowed to sleep inside, sectioning off your property with a second fence is an alternative solution. The second fence will keep your dog away from the boundary of your property, making it significantly more difficult for thieves to poison or steal your dog.
3. CONSIDER REMOVING “BEWARE OF THE DOG” SIGNAGE
Although this signage has some benefits, it also alerts thieves to the fact that you have a dog, particularly in the case of power breeds, such a Rottweilers or Pit Bulls, who are sought after for dog fighting.
4. BE WARY OF STRANGERS THAT SHOW AN OVERLY ACTIVE INTEREST IN YOUR DOG
All dog owners love talking about their furkids but you should be careful about sharing too many details to strangers. Be cautious of people asking too many details such as how much you paid, if they are purebred and whether or not they are neutered or spayed.
5. SPAY OR NEUTER YOUR DOG
Dogs are sometimes stolen to be resold for breeding purposes. Spaying or neutering your pet can reduce their chances of being stolen.
6. TRAINING YOUR DOG
Although it may be more difficult to train older dogs, it is highly beneficial to train your dog not to accept food from strangers or to only accept food under certain conditions e.g. in a specific bowl.
7. HIRE TRUSTWORTHY DOG/HOUSE SITTERS
Ensure that you only hire professional, responsible, and trusted pet-care providers to look after your pet while you are away. Go to a trusted source, such as a local vet, to find a good dog-sitter and always check references before hiring. Once you have hired the dog-sitter, ensure that they are informed of all the necessary safety precautions for your home.
What to do if your dog has been stolen:
1. REPORT YOUR MISSING DOG TO THE MICROCHIP DATABASE
Microchipping won’t prevent your pet from being stolen, however, should your dog be found it will assist in identifying the pet as yours. A dog collar can be removed but a microchip is permanent. Ensure that all of your details are up to date, especially if you are moving house or have changed your contact number. In the event that your pet has been stolen, report the missing dog to the microchip database. Doing so will ensure that you are informed, should someone try to re-register the chip number.
2. OPEN A CASE OF THEFT
If your animal has been stolen, it is advisable to open a case of theft at the nearest SAPS branch. Animals are seen as personal property and therefore SAPS are legally obliged to open a case in terms of the criminal procedure act of 51 of 1977. Sgt Pam Pillay, the spokesperson for Bellair SAPS, confirmed that if caught ‘dognappers’ will be charged with theft. If there is any deliberate attempt to harm the animal, the suspect will then be charged with malicious damage to property or malicious injury to property.
3. GET HELP IMMEDIATELY
Speed is key – it is vital to get the word out as quick as possible. Make use of social media and any available networks to distribute a clear, recent image of your dog and your contact details.
4. BEWARE OF SCAM ARTISTS
Be careful of scam artists demanding reward money for the return of your pet. Common scams involve someone phoning to tell you that they have found your dog in a far-off area and need money to transport your dog back to you.
This heart-breaking CCTV footage below shows a recent incident in which a suspect attempted to steal a dog from her home, in the Kloof area. The dog, named Holley, was lucky enough to be rescued by a Kloof neighbourhood watch patroller, Joe Swart. How are you ensuring your pet’s safety?