Impact of dog theft on owners highlighted in major new survey
More than three-quarters of dog owners have taken additional actions to protect their dogs from theft over the last twelve months, according to a major new survey.
The survey, conducted by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), whose members own an estimated 166,000 dogs, comes amid growing evidence that dog theft is on the rise and the government’s announcement of a ‘taskforce’.
Key findings from the survey completed by 3,409 dog owners include:
- 75 per cent of dog owners have taken additional actions to protect their dogs from theft over the last 12 months.
- 96 per cent of dog owners are extremely or very aware of the risk of dog theft since the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown. In addition, nearly 80 per cent of dog owners are aware of a local dog theft in the last 12 months.
- Of those who have taken additional action in the last 12 months, five per cent are carrying varying personal protection devices, such as alarms and body cameras.
- There is an overriding sense (81 per cent) that the police do not have enough or the correct resources to tackle dog theft.
- From those who responded saying they have been victim of dog theft; the same number of dogs were stolen in the last two years (31) then from the previous decade.
- Of all 111 responses stating they had been victim of dog theft, there has to date only been one successful conviction.
There was anecdotal support for the police to introduce dedicated dog theft officers, such as Nottinghamshire Police have recently done, and changing the law to reflect the emotional attachment and sentiment felt towards dogs.
At present, dog theft along with all pets are classed as property under the Theft Act 1968. This means the pet is given a monetary value. Dog owners are keen to see it given a specific offence that recognises the importance of dogs within families.
Kate Dymock, BASC’s gundog officer, said: “The responses clearly show that people are increasingly aware and concerned about the threat of dog theft.”
“The Government’s announcement of a taskforce is welcome news. It urgently needs to review the whole issue of dog theft and set about producing proposals that will address dog owner’s concerns.
“While the risk of dog theft remains low, its impact on individuals who fall victim to it can be devasting. The government need to reassure the public that the necessary resources are made available to reduce the risk further and deter potential criminals.”
“There have been several recently reported cases of police successfully carrying out operations to recover stolen dogs and BASC is calling on police forces to ensure that have sufficient expertise and resources to deal with dog theft.”
Responding to figures that more than 5 per cent of dog owners have started carrying personal protection devices such as alarms and body cameras, Kate said: “A rise in carrying personal protection devices shows the impact of dog theft is having on dog owners. The escalation of the situation is serious and concerning. The government and police need to get a handle of the situation quickly.”