Keep your dog in sight at all times – reports have reached us that an organised gang of dognappers is operating in the Gloucestershire area. Twenty four dogs have been ‘dognapped’ so far and ransom demands of up to £1000 have been demanded.
The police are investigating but prosecutions are hard to achieve. Reporting the thieves doesn’t always bring the result you expect. The men have stories at the ready, ranging from ‘I found the dog’ to ‘I bought him for £600 and I want expenses and my money back’. What would you do? Pay up, I guess.Stealing dogs is ready money and easy for criminals. They target ‘sporting dogs’ such as Jack Russells, Labradors and Spaniels but any valuable breed is at risk – especially small pretty dogs with a high value. Only young, well cared for and healthy dogs are taken and whilst some of them are ransomed back to their owners, others are sold in pubs or at markets for cash.Since the people who do this usually move around the country, it is hard for police to keep up with their activities. It’s lucrative crime – ten dogs changing hands for £100 and they have £1000. Most of the dogs fetch far more than this.
Many of the dogs go out of the area, we once helped to get a dog for sale in Dorset back to his rightful owners who lived in Derbyshire!
Dogs are regularly stolen from back yards and gardens. One of the gang will knock on the front door while another, often a child or teenager, goes round the back and whips the dog away. A transit van parked round the corner, the dog’s inside and off they go. If a dog is out for a saunter, they have tempting meat to catch him with – and remember that these people are used to handling dogs. It’s a miserable experience for any dog they catch, he will most likely be chained up, locked in a shed, beaten if he misbehaves and fed only when they think about it.
We shouldn’t have to lock up our back gates but it’s the only way to keep a dog safe when he’s loose in the garden. Rigging up a buzzer so you know if anyone has entered is another good safety measure. Don’t let your dog run about on his own and when you’re out for a walk, keep your eye on him at all times. The villains who steal dogs are adept at distraction – a young woman might ask you the way, while a youngster lures your dog away. These gangs send children in to steal dogs and cats too, because they believe nothing will happen if they get caught. They can plead naughtiness or say that they just wanted to play with the ‘nice doggy’.
Don’t be complacent, the gangs may be working down south for the time being, but when it gets too ‘hot’ for them down there, they’ll move on. This can happen in any area so be on the alert and report any suspicious behaviour. We’ll be happy to put alerts online.Buying a dog from a stranger is risky. If it’s someone who has advertised from a house address, be aware that it might not be theirs – it could well be a girlfriend’s or where they are staying temporarily. Always ask the seller who their vet is and give him a ring to make sure they are who they say they are and that the dog is registered at the surgery. A dog who has been acquired suddenly, won’t be.Send flyers out to vets, most new owners take their dog in for a check up. This nearly always include checking for a microchip.
If your dog isn’t microchipped already, get it done. It won’t stop him being stolen and sold but it increases the likelihood of your getting him back – eventually.