Many of us had a difficult year in 2020, thanks to any combination of personal and professional challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. But, the silver lining was that many of us also found a canine companion to help us through those challenging times.
That rise in popularity has had a positive impact on the lives of animal lovers everywhere, but it’s also been accompanied by a rise in pet theft as well.
Authorities in the UK are cautioning dog owners to be on the lookout for thieves luring dogs from front porches, gardens, outside of businesses, or even accosting owners in the park to violently steal what they’re after.
Unsurprisingly, this is mainly affecting richer neighborhoods where in-demand breeds such as Yorkies, French Bulldogs, and Chihuahuas — smaller dogs that are easier to snatch — are common.
Across the pond in the US, the American Kennel Club is issuing similar warnings. Their site notes that thefts are on the rise, and “easier than most people realize.”
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The UK’s Blue Cross, an animal charity, has been working with police and dog owners to spread awareness and help those that have been victimized.
“We don’t want to terrify pet owners, but it is something we’re seeing that is on the rise,” said Becky Thwaites, the organization’s head of public affairs in an interview with The Guardian.
“Anecdotally, there is an organized element to it. There is theft to order. There are gangs working together, it’s not just single opportunistic criminals. It’s a network that’s operating across the country,” she continued.
The organization claims that between 2019 and 2020, dog thefts jumped 170%, again due to demand caused by the pandemic and a lack of availability from responsible breeders.
So, what can you do to protect yourself and your four-legged friend from this particularly callous crime?
The first line of defense is an awareness of risky situations, such as leaving your pet unattended or out of eyesight for extended times.
Second, making sure your pet is microchipped and registered with your local area can help locate them if a theft does occur.
Lastly, the American Kennel Club recommends that “if your dog is stolen, immediately report the theft to police, call your microchip company and any lost-dog or stolen-dog databases that you know of in your area, including local shelters. You should also distribute fliers and get the word out on social media.”
Pets can get us through the toughest of times, and love us unconditionally. Protect your pet and be aware that at this moment, some breeds are a hot commodity that someone might be willing to break the law to get their hands on.
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