Dog theft is a problem for owners of all breeds and gundogs are seen as a particular risk as they are well-trained, obedient and often pedigree. The gundog breeds most commonly stolen tend to be cocker and springer spaniels and Labradors, with the south-west and south-east England as hotspots, particularly in rural areas.
Some of the reasons for gundog theft may be because the person is opposed to hunting sports, are looking to use the dog as blackmail to get money from the owner, or are sold on as they are valuable property. Gundogs may end up on puppy farms or even shipped abroad to make them untraceable. It is a gundog owner’s duty to ensure their dogs are protected and safe, and there are ways to prevent against theft, at home, on shoots and at trials.
When bulking up the security on your property, think like a criminal; how could you steal the dog and what measures are in place that could stop you? Gundogs which are kept in kennels are easy targets, so building or moving them close to the house is a good start. Another way is not to make the kennel obvious – make it look like a shed or another structure. Alarms and security lighting are needed, and should be placed in areas where they cannot be interfered with. There are several top quality security features you could invest in, from alarmed padlocks to remote access CCTV. Like with any other property, never leave tools around that could help a thief’s entry.
For your car, you may want to consider tinted windows, as this helps to conceal the view into the back. Transit crates for your dog, again with alarmed padlocks, can also be beneficial, especially when you are out with your working dog or are transporting other dogs in your vehicle.
All dogs are required by law in the UK to be microchipped, so make sure your details are up to date. It is also a good idea to take photos of your dog from various angles and keep them with their documents and keep these photos up to date. This means pictures of a stolen dog can be circulated quickly.
If you are buying a dog or puppy, you should be sure of its origins and have all the correct paperwork. Once you have the paperwork, make sure it is re-registered in your name; not doing this can make it easier for someone to steal your dog.
Out and About
When out with your dog, don’t always take the same route or go to the same place, in case you are followed. This could be a walk, shoot, dog club or event, and make sure the dog is kept within your sight or on a leash. You might also want to avoid boasting about your dog’s talents; someone might be listening who takes an overly-keen interest. The same goes for when you are selling puppies from a litter. Putting signs up stating you have puppies for sale can attract the wrong attention.
If Your Dog is Stolen
Dog theft is a huge loss to owners, no matter if they are working dogs or family pets, and swift action is what helps. Contacting the police immediately and getting a crime number is first on the list, followed by contacting your local council, RSPCA and any local kennels or dog adoption places. As your dog is microchipped, reporting its theft to Petlog, the UK’s microchip registration and database, can also help.
You should also talk to neighbours and check with the local community, especially in a smaller, rural place where you are familiar with those living in the area. Social media can also help – spreading the word on several platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram that your dog has been stolen, along with pictures, marks your dog as ‘hot’ and slows down or stops its sale.
Check out our other blog posts on gundogs, from breed guides to information on nutrition and health. You might also want to take a look at the gundog accessories and dog-related gifts we have available to buy online.