Dognapping is on the rise in the UK. A leading dog theft charity, DogLost, says reported cases soared by nearly a fifth in 2013 to around 11,000. For the pets’ owners it’s a tragedy. For the heartless criminals involved, it’s a lucrative trade in misery.
Dog theft is not trivial; it is the work of organised gangs. Stolen dogs can fetch more than £2,000. Part of the reason for the illegal trade in pedigree dogs is that the price of buying some breeds from traditional breeders has have risen so high.
The thefts take place in various ways. Dogs can be stolen from kennels and outhouses, taken as they are being walked by their owners, sometimes with violence, and are grabbed from inside houses in burglaries. Some of the animals are stolen to order and others are sold over the internet to buyers in other parts of Britain.
There is no regulation of who can sell a dog over the internet. Criminals create numerous accounts through which they attempt to sell stolen dogs. Some of these accounts are also used to sell other items, so that on the face of it the seller appears to have a long history and a good online reputation.
The most popular targets for the gangs are trained working dogs, such as labradors, although other popular types such as chihuahuas and pugs also figure highly. Recently, the biggest rise has been in thefts of cocker spaniels, following an increase in their popularity after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge adopted a puppy.
When selling a dog, one of the techniques of criminals is to give a sob story as a reasonfor selling their so-called beloved family pet. They also attempt to deceive the buyer into thinking they will only sell the dog to a loving and caring person. You then spend all your time proving you are that type of buyer as opposed to establishing that they are that type of seller.
If you insist on buying a dog over the internet, here are some tips on how to avoid buying a stolen dog. Visit the dog at the seller’s home and see how the dog relates to the seller. Ask to see photographs of the dog with the owner or family.
Enquire about the dog’s history with the family, and ask to see paperwork relating to the dog itself, such as vet’s bills, insurance, microchipping, and kennel club certificates. Ask whether it is neutered (spayed or castrated) and cross-check this with the vet’s bills.
Get the seller to agree to the sale subject to a vet’s examination, to include a microchip scan. A thief will not want you to take a photograph of them in possession of a stolen dog. So ask to take a photograph of them with the dog you are buying. If they refuse – walk out.