Dog theft – what can you do to protect your dog?

Recently, the rate of dog theft has been on the rise, as there is a real supply and demand issue with the number of dogs available for new homes. As the pandemic continues, many people have been left feeling lonely and have been looking to fill the void with a furry friend. Opportunistic thieves have been keen to make the most of this by steeling dogs and selling them for a profit. The pandemic has also caused dog prices to sky rocket in response to the supply and demand issue, further perpetuating the increase in dog theft. 

Dog theft – is it a punishable crime? 

In Australia, laws have been put in place to try to deter would be criminals from the theft of dogs. 

In NSW legislation, the Crimes Act 1900, Section 132 states; 

“Whosoever, having been summarily convicted under this or any former Act, of any such offence as is hereinafter in this section mentioned, afterwards, steals any dog, or has unlawfully in his or her possession any stolen dog, or the skin of any stolen dog, knowing such dog to have been stolen, shall be liable to imprisonment for one year.” 

The same penalty applies for anyone who corruptly takes money or a reward from retrieving a stolen dog. 

Who is most at risk of dog theft? 

Unattended dogs 

Dogs are not necessarily safe if they are left unattended outside shops or in cars. A well behaved dog could be easily snatched from outside a shop without too much fuss. A dog in a car with the window ajar is also an easy target as the window can be pushed down further or broken to gain access to the dog. Some owners opt to keep the dog in a lockable cage in the car to deter thieves. The best advice is to take your pet with you if possible, as cars can become extremely hot and dangerous for your pet – Summer Days – 9 ways to keep your pet comfortable as the weather heats up. 

Dog Theft

Dogs can also be at risk if they are left unattended at home in the yard. Dogs, whose owners are away from home for long periods of the day working are particularly at risk. 

Sort after breeds  

Pure breed and designer breeds have become increasingly popular and sell for a large price tag.

Breeds of dogs that are most sort after or those of unusual colouration often attract the highest value for resale and their potential for breeding makes them vulnerable theft targets.

Illegal dog fighting 

One of the saddest situations of dog theft is when larger breed dogs are stolen as bait for illegal dog fighting. This act is despicable and must be so traumatic for the dogs and their owners….

Ways to protect yourself from dog theft 

Theft of any kind is something we definitely all want to avoid, particularly that of our beloved pets. There are steps that can be taken to help reduce the risk of dog theft. 

  • Make sure your house is secure with lockable doors and windows.
  • Avoid leaving your dog unattended in the yard, particularly if it’s easily visible to passers-by. Don’t leave dogs unattended outside shops or inside cars.
  • When letting your dog run off-lead, make sure they reliably return when called and keep them in sight at all times. If in doubt, call them back and secure with a lead again. 
  • Make sure your dog is microchipped and the details on the chip are up to date. 
  • Don’t give strangers unnecessary details about your pet or about the times they are left unattended. 

What to do if your dog is stolen? 

If the worst should happen and your dog is stolen there are a number of people you should contact. 

  • Police – to notify them of the crime 
  • Local vet 
  • Rescue centres 
  • Microchipping agencies to make sure your details are up to date. 
  • Friends and Family 
Dog theft Pet Care, Facts

Other things to try 

  • Put an advert on social media 
  • Put up posters in your local area.  
  • Offer a reward. A reward may help speed up the safe return of the dog but it may also spur on more dog theft in the area so you should consider this carefully before taking action. 
  • If you are a new dog owner, ask the seller for a bit more about its background and when taking it to the vet for an initial health check, get them to scan the microchip to check the details. 

For further information on how to reunite with your dog, have a look at our article on What to do if your pet is lost? 

Be mindful when it comes to your pet, especially if they are to be left unattended. Do whatever is necessary to keep them safe from theft, so you can look forward to looking into those beautiful eyes again when you return. 

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