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10 things you can do to prevent your dog from being stolen

Your dog may be beloved family member, but heartless thieves are often on the lookout for expensive and popular breeds to sell for quick cash. Here are our top tips for protecting your pooch.

1. Don’t leave your dog alone in public.

Leaving your pet unattended is a main cause of dog theft. Treat your dog like you would your child. Think twice before leaving it tied up outside a shop or alone in your car, even for a few minutes. If you have to take your dog to the shops, take someone with you who can sit with them while you’re busy.

2. Keep an eye on your dog at all times.

If you lose sight of your dog, it only takes a moment for them to be snatched. Only let your dog off leash in a park if they stay within view and will come to you when called. If you’re unsure whether they’ll come back to you or you’re in an unfamiliar area, use an extending lead. If they can’t be trusted off leash then don’t risk it.

3. Secure your yard to keep thieves out and your dog in.

Only leave your dog in your garden if it is well secured and can keep your dog enclosed. Make sure your fences are solid and difficult for a thief to climb in or your dog to get out.  Put strong locks on front and side gates and make sure your dog can’t be seen from the street. Make sure you always supervise your dog when it’s in your yard, especially if it’s not fenced and don’t let them wander the neighbourhood.

4. Keep doggie doors and human doors locked.

A dog door might be convenient, but it can also be a security risk for your dog. When your dog is inside, keep dog doors, external doors and windows locked. If you’re going to be away from home, keep your dog safely locked inside your house, making sure it can’t be seen from the street, and consider investing in a pet-friendly security alarm.

5. Mix up times and routes for your dog walks.

Vary the time of day, place and route when you walk your dog, so that potential thieves loitering in the area don’t become familiar with your routine. Some dogs are targeted and snatched during walks. Thieves use these walking patterns to plan when to strike.

6. Don’t overshare information about your dog.

Beware of strangers who start asking you too many questions about your dog or seem to be paying it a lot of attention. Be careful about what you post about your dog on social media — if you’re uploading photos of them, make sure you’re not away info that could disclose where you live.

7. Thoroughly research dog walkers, sitters, groomers and trainers.

Don’t hand your dog over to just anyone. Always check references and reviews and ask for photo identification, before trusting your dog with someone new. Ask your vet to recommend a professional they know and trust.

8. Desex your dog.

Desexing your dog will make them less desirable to thieves, who might be looking to breed them and make money from selling their puppies.

9. Keep your dog’s ID up-to-date.

Make sure your dog is microchipped, registered with your local council and that you keep the details up-to-date, especially if you move house. Always make sure your dog is wearing a collar and ID tag with your name and mobile number on it and consider getting a GPS tracking device that can be attached to the collar and linked with an app on your phone. Don’t put your dog’s name on its collar as a potential thief could use it to call them over.

10. Take lots of photos of your dog.

Take clear photographs of your dog from various angles and update them regularly. They’ll come in handy if your dog is lost or stolen. Make a note of any features that might distinguish your dog from others. Make sure you also have lots of photographs of yourself with your dog, so you can prove you own it, if necessary.

If the worst should happen and your dog is stolen.

  • Report it to the Police Assistance Line and your local council.
  • Check “found pets” listings on rescue organisations and pounds.
  • Make a flyer with a photo and details of your dog and letterbox every home in your neighbourhood.
  • Advise local vets, rescue centres, shelters.
  • Advise the microchip company so they can mark your dog’s record as “stolen”.
  • Spread the word on social media, it may help make your dog “too hot to handle”. Join local “lost pets” groups on Facebook and other lost and found pet websites. Post details and photos of your dog and ask people to share your post.

If you’re buying a dog, make sure it’s not stolen.

In Victoria, anyone selling or giving away a dog or cat, even to a family member or friend, must enrol with the Pet Exchange Register (PER) and ensure the pet is microchipped. The microchip number, along with the PER source number, must be included in any advertisement.

If you’re getting a dog, check the seller is valid by looking up their source number on the Pet Exchange Register.

Make every effort to research the dog’s history to make sure they haven’t been stolen.

When you’re taking your new dog for its initial health check, ask the vet to scan the microchip.