All animals at risk as the number of pet thefts rises
This is a subject that we seem to be covering a lot at the moment as pets are becoming increasingly attractive targets for theft. At the beginning of this month we reported the news that West Yorkshire had the most dog thefts outside of London, and just last week research showed that this area has also seen a 40% rise in cat thefts with only London and Kent experiencing more.
While the actual number of reported thefts are reasonably small – 261 between 2014 and 2016 nationally – as many as 360,000 adults are said to believe that a cat has been stolen from their care in the last 12 months. The discrepancy being that many thefts are not reported.
While cats are obviously more inclined to go missing than dogs due to their roaming nature, there does seem to be a worrying trend of thefts. There are a number of reasons for stealing cats: specialist breeds like Siamese, Bengal and Russian Blues are taken to sell on and domestic short hair cats can be taken to breed or, tragically, as bait for fighting dogs.
Not just cats and dogs
While cat and dog thefts are the most common, many types of animal are at risk. Birds are particularly vulnerable as they can sell for large sums of money. While we featured a story last week about the parrot that foiled a burglar, unfortunately most bird thefts don’t have such a positive outcome and a valuable grey parrot was stolen from Bradford just last week. Other pets often stolen are tortoises, lizards and snakes.
How to protect your pet
While we have covered many of these points before, it’s worth reinforcing them – especially for owners of cats and other pets who hadn’t realised that their animals were at such risk. Here are some good tips for keeping your beloved pets safe:
- Don’t ‘advertise’ that you have pets, especially valuable ones such as birds and rare breeds of cats and dogs. That means being careful about posting on social media, especially where your settings are ‘public’ and could be seen by people you don’t know. Refrain from displaying beware of the dog signs and keep bird cages away from front windows where possible.
- Make sure your house is secure. Some pet thefts are opportunistic but many will steal to order so having a particular kind of pet could make your home a target. Keep doors locked and windows closed, even when you’re at home and set your burglar alarm when you’re out and on a night when you’re in bed. Many believe that you can’t have an alarm if you have pets but that’s not the case. Standard sensors can be swapped for pet sensors or you could set the alarm to detect breaches in doors and windows only.
- Microchip your pets where possible. This should always be done for cats and dogs but other types of pet can often be done if they’re longer than 10cm. Bird owners are advised to keep a feather or have a blood sample taken by a vet. These measures could potentially help stolen pets to be returned however please bear in mind that statistically, for every 7 dogs that are stolen, only 1 is reunited with its owner.
- Try not to leave pets alone in your garden and if you do, make sure the garden is secure with locks on garden gates and high fences. Security lighting and CCTV might also be worth considering.
- If you have a rare breed cat, consider keeping it inside as you could be making a very easy target of it if you allow it to roam.
- Attach an ‘I’ve been spayed/neutered’ tag to your cat’s/dog’s collar. A spayed animal is worthless to anyone stealing it to breed with.
Any burglary is devastating but most belongings can be replaced. A treasured pet cannot and knowing its potential fate is heart breaking so we would urge you to do all you can to prevent it.