Gundog Theft Awareness

This dedicated webpage provides advice and guidance on what to do if you are faced with dog theft or find a lost dog.

UK dog theft is on the rise according to a BBC article, and this year has been the worst. With increased time at home due to Covid-19, people have been more likely to consider getting a companion. This has created a rise in demand and in turn placed a higher concern on the theft of working dogs.

Working gundogs are special as not only are they our best friend, but they are highly trained and indispensable for gamekeepers and those who work in shooting. This can make them high priority for gundog theft as working dogs are known to be of good pedigree, well socialised and well mannered.  

Here are a few tips on what you can do to help prevent or deter gundog theft…

Security to prevent gundog theft

There are many steps you can take, both at home and while attending shoots or organised events, to improve the safety and security of your dogs.

The reason many gundog thefts occur is because they are typically well mannered and well trained. They are also more likely to be kept in kennels outside or in vehicles on a shoot that may not be locked.

Unfortunately, there isn’t just one thing you can do to improve security but instead multiple layers which when implemented can deter criminals from breaking in. Here are some ideas:

  • While it’s not always feasible to keep your dogs in your home, it is also the safest place you can keep them – if a dog is stolen from a house the perpetrator can be charged with burglary as well as theft and as such be charged accordingly.
  • If your dogs are kennelled, then there location is one of the most important points to think about. Keep your kennel in view and a close proximity of your house. Try to minimise vehicle access to your kennels and think about the overall security of its surroundings. Is there a low fence that could be made higher? All of these factors add an extra level of deterrent to potential criminals looking to gain access.
  • While dogs should never be left alone in vehicles, when travelling always make sure they are in a secure transit box that you are able to lock. Consider using alarmed padlocks and having tinted windows. These can help obscure the view of passers by looking in.
  • When parking your vehicle with a dog inside, try to reverse up against a secure area such as a wall. This will make access to the back of your car or pickup much harder to gain entry to. Also avoid taking multiple dogs if they won’t be with you all day. This may not always be possible but you should minimise the time that a dog will be alone for.
  • Install gate sensors or bells.
  • Mount motion sensor security lights as deterrents.
  • Install a Wi-Fi camera in your kennel at home to give you piece of mind. It will allow you to check on your dogs throughout the day and night. Prices can start from as little as £25.
  • Think carefully before posting on social media. A photograph of your dog with your vehicle registration on show or a recognisable landmark could be enough to entice a thief and give away personal information.
  • Try not to leave your dog unattended. Even if you are just popping into a shop or the front garden, leaving your dog tied up or loose unaccompanied can create an opportunity for gundog theft.
  • Avoid advertising what dog you have in your vehicle or at home with stickers or signs. A lot of us take pride in being a proud gundog owner but using stickers and signs can tell thieves where you live and what breed you have.
  • It is now a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped. Make sure your details are up to date to ensure a point of contact if you become a victim of gundog theft.
  • If you’re not planning on breeding from your dog, consider having them sprayed or neutered. This may seem a little extreme, but the majority of dog thefts are done for the purpose of breeding to maximise profits.
  • Consider varying the times of your walk and the routes you take with your dog. Some dogs can be targeted and snatched during walks.
  • Take regular photographs of your dog, noting particular markings and features. This would help if anything ever happened.

Selling puppies

When advertising a litter of puppies, it’s crucial to be vigilant of all prospective owners.

Ensure you don’t give away too many details. Opportunists can use the information you provide, like your location, to target the litter. Here are some tips on how to prevent gundog theft when selling puppies:

  • When speaking to prospective owners, speak to them over the phone before inviting them to view the litter. This can ensure they are genuine buyers and make sure you ask them questions. Never give out your address unless you are satisfied the individual is genuine.
  • Always take details from all prospective buyers.
  • Never be alone when a prospective buyer comes to view the litter.
  • If the litter is kept in a kennel or outside building, consider moving them indoors for all viewings so that prospective buyers do not see your kennel set up and any other dogs that you may have.
  • Consider having CCTV and motion sensor lights fitted. Entering a home that clearly states it has CCTV can deter criminals.

What to do if your dog is missing or considered stolen

  • Call the microchip company your dog is registered with and register them as missing.
  • If you suspect your dog has been stolen, contact the police and obtain a crime reference number.
  • Contact your local vets, dog warden and kennels/charities. Let them know your dog is missing. If they are handed in or found, this will help them to contact you quickly.
  • Check online and register your dog as missing. DogLost is a free national database ran by volunteers who will help you search for your dog.
  • Create and put up notices in your local area to make people aware there is a missing dog and who to contact if it’s found.
  • Use social media to advertise your missing dog. This can help make more people aware there is a missing dog and could make them ‘too hot to handle’ deterring criminals if your dog has been stolen.

What to do if you find a lost dog

If the dog appears to be scared or wary of you, contact the local dog warden and alert them to the area that you have seen the dog. Many dogs will act this way if they have been missing for a few days or more.

You can also register the dog as ‘found’ on DogLost, and alert local vets, kennels and charities.

All dogs are legally required to wear a collar with an identification tag in public places, unless under specific circumstances. Use this to verify ownership. Do not arrange to meet with anyone unless you can prove that they are the owner of the dog. If you are in any doubt, contact your local dog warden or local charities.

For more information on gundogs, dog insurance and the latest news, click here.

Images by Richard Faulks and Nick Ridley

Related links

A lost dog

Matt Cross writes about the experience of his dog going missing and how gundog owners can prevent their dogs from getting lost or stolen.

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BASC Dog Insurance

Should the unthinkable happen and your dog is stolen, a policy with BASC Dog Insurance is available to support you. We remove the financial worry by providing up to £1,500 of cover for the costs involved with advertising and this includes up to £250 towards a reward. No excess is payable for claims under this benefit, which is included automatically within all BASC Dog Insurance policies.

For a quote visit agriapet.co.uk/BASC or call 03330 30 82 05.

Quote HS19 for £50 to spend at your vet, free with a new policy.