\\\ Pet Theft
Pet Theft Update
For many years in the UK Pet Theft has been on the rise, so much so that parliament is now in the proceeds of passing through reforms to amend animal welfare law making pet theft a specific offence. The Kennel Club say less than five per cent of cases result in criminal conviction.
Pet theft runs alongside burglaries and shop lifting offences.
During the pandemic, 2020, pet theft is estimated to have risen by 250% according to latest figures released.
The demand by new pet owners during the pandemic where people had more time spent at home sparked a buying frenzy by millennials, where the PMFA, The Pet’s Manufacturer Food Association, provided new figures suggesting that millions of dogs and cats were purchased and a large proportion purchased by new and inexperienced owners. The UK dog population rising to 12.5 million and likewise, the cat population the same. The prices paid rose which attracted the criminal gangs as well as opportunistic thieves.
A task force has been launched by Pritti Patel, the Home Secretary where the Government are looking at increasing penalties for those who steal pets and sell them on for commercial gain.
Campaigners are arguing that stealing a beloved dog is equal to someone stealing a phone, bike, motor vehicle. Currently pet theft is not treated in the same way as that of personal possessions.
Amendments have been tabled to the Policing Bill to make it a separate offence where offenders could face up to two years in jail and factors such as stolen for commercial gain, selling on to new owners unaware of the pet’s past history, where distress has been caused to the previous owner, their dog walker and, of course, the pet.
A general consensus in parliament is to examine and toughen present legislation in a crackdown.
Miss Pritti Patel, The Home Office Minister met Environment Secretary George Eustice and the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland met during March to agree a cross-government approach and a special team, a national Pet Theft Taskforce, have been set up including junior ministers to report on the problems with recommendations necessary to tackle the problems.
The taskforce will be chaired by the Lord Chancellor, The Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC and be made up of government officials from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice as well as operational partners such as the police. It will seek input from animal welfare groups and experts in relevant fields to:
- Gather, research and commission work to build a clear evidence base of the scale of any issue,
- Consider the issue from end to end, including causes, prevention, reporting, enforcement and prosecution,
- Make clear and timely recommendations on ways to improve the situation around pet theft.
Ministers are also taking the opportunity to consult on three separate mandatory scanning campaigns
- Tuk’s Law, which would make it mandatory for vets to scan cats and dogs for microchips before putting them down
- Fern’s Law, which would require vets to microchip cats and dogs when brought into a vet practice for the first time
- Gizmo’s Legacy to make it mandatory to scan for microchips when a cat or dog is found dead by the roadside.
The First Dog Theft Police Officer Appointed
Due to the growing theft problems, Nottinghamshire Police have appointed for the first time a senior officer, 2021, to combat the crimes being committed and where theft should be treated as a high-risk crime.
How you can help
More than half of thefts take place from the garden according to the PDSA who urge pet owners to mend fences, ensure their gardens are dog proof and to keep an eye on their pets if in accessible front gardens.
There are additional safety guards such as wearing a body camera when out dog walking, providing your dog to wear a GPS activity pet tracker (cats can wear these too), making sure kids walking dogs are with adults or several kids together, and walk with a friend where possible.
The resultant effects being that not only do owners loose a much loved pet, but so much crime is pushing up premiums for pet insurance that owners are avoiding taking out insurance policies.
\\\ Pets Missing
“I don’t know why my cat went missing? I just hope she is safe”
Scores of thousands of pets goes missing each year often without any explanation.
There can be sometimes behavioural issues that are to blame, a pet acting out of character. Moving to a new area and house can bring it’s problems. There are stories of cats and dogs returning to homes after a period of years or returning to previous addresses if they had recently moved. Cats finding it difficult to mark out new territory and dogs may simply not be happy in their new environment. It doesn’t matter whether it’s summer or winter, pet disappearance can happen at any time.
It’s distressing to owners who may simply not know what to do and why their beloved pet has abandoned them.
Sometimes pet sitters find themselves without pets to look after while owners are travelling, away on holiday, where anxious and distressed pets not having their regular ‘carer’ simply disappear.
There are stories of dogs jumping out of car windows when travelling along, dogs running off when in large parks and not being found by owners and wardens, escaping out of the home jumping out of windows for no apparent reason, or unhappiness when a new pet arrives in the home.
Cats disappear out of the cat flap to never return back home. Even hamsters escaping from open door cages whilst the owners back is turned, whilst cleaning it out and never to be seen again!
Those cats that are house-bound, may try to escape when the front or back door is opened, or by a open window if discontented, or just want to experience what the locality has to offer!
Taking pets to lively noisy events can be upsetting and pets can just bolt. Sometimes a little more thought and planning by the owner can help prevent these occurrences, sometimes they are simply unexplainable.
Every year in the UK thousands of pets simply disappear from our homes and streets.
If your pet goes missing its crucial to act swiftly to see if you can find it.
7 Tips To Speed Up Your Pets Return
- Contact the microchip company if your pet is microchipped and log it’s disappearance making sure your contact details are also up to date.
- Retrace the last steps of your pet, if they are known, and then contact local welfare animal organisations.
- Report your pet missing to the local council, recording it on their website and to the local council warden. If someone finds a stray pet they can also use this local facility to record their pet find and help to reunite pet and owner.
- Putting up local signs, along streets, with a recent picture of your pet, contact details can help, sometimes offering a reward an added incentive.
- Checking with local vets if any similar pet has recently been treated.
- Use social media, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, to engage readers to help find your pet.
- Contact the local Cats Protection on 03000 121212 to report your cat lost.
Check your insurance policy as some policies allow rewards and advertising to be covered in your pet insurance policy.
\\\ Pet Microchipping
Do I Microchip My Dog And Cat? Is It The Law?
According to the UK’s Kennel Club, up to 70,000 pets went missing during 2014. Missing pets were becoming a national problem with pretty beautiful pets simply disappearing off our streets in their thousands.
2016, the government bought in Laws trying to help to curb this problem, in England, Scotland and Wales (with Northern Ireland having similar but different pet laws, microchipping being required by law since 2011), by all pet owners having to microchip their dogs. Cats were excluded from this law.
Larger cats can successfully be microchipped with the small grain of rice sized chip that’s inserted into the scruff of the neck of the pet by a fine needle, actioned by a professionally trained person. It should be a painless procedure when correctly practised by a trained professional.
The Kennel Club run the PetLog.org.uk database which logs missing pets and pets that are found and boasts that its the largest network in the UK repatriating microchipped pets having more than 12 million pet owners registered.
The Petlog aftercare service team are open 24/7 to authorise bodies such as animal wardens or animal welfare centres who scan the microchips in found pets and trace their owners via the Petlog database.
It’s also a member of Europetnet, a group of national and local associations based across Europe who register owner information about pets that have been identified by way of a transponder, (the technical word for the electronic device searching the microchip tucked into the scruff of the pet).
This means that should you loose your pet whilst on holiday in Europe there may be a chance if you register your details on line with the Kennel Club’s PetLog organisation, that a person may find your lost animal and take it possibly to a vet where they will check if it has a microchip by the transponder device and it will electronically register the pet and vet’s detail as found. Repatriation could then take place where authorised agencies can help bring you and your pet back together.
Puppies in the UK must be registered by 8 weeks old with a microchip inserted before being handed over to their new owner by the breeder. Keepership of the pet must be transferred from the breeder to the new owner as it is a legal requirement to keep owners details up to date on the microchip database.
Cats can be microchipped depending on their size from about 10-12 weeks but is currently not a legal requirement. Cats obtained from animal shelters are likely to have been chipped whilst in their care.
The cost of microchipping is generally about £15.00 – £20.00. Plus you’ll need to buy an ID tag and these range from about £2.99. Most good pet suppliers stock these.
You may prefer your pet to have an inscription plate that is fixed on the collar particularly if your dog or cat keeps loosing a dangling tag or finds it a nuisance. These cost a little more and available from several online and high street quality pet stores.
Even with microchipping now fully established, PetLog.org.uk still took more than 60,000 calls from owners about lost and found pets last year.
It’s not just dogs that can be microchipped, insurance companies encourage owners of expensive and exotic animals to consider microchipping their pets in a bid to help keep them safe and free from theft. Bigger cats, parrots and tortoises are popular choices and due to their ‘roaming’ tendencies.
The most preferred type of microchip being used in the UK is that produced by Tracer, part of the pharmaceuticals giant, Bayer.
End Of Life
Whilst the 2016 Act dealt with microchipping legal registration from an early age of dogs, it gave little legal consideration to end of life matters including euthanasia requests of healthy dogs at veterinary practices by non-owners of microchipped dogs.
The Act provided no comfort to cat owners whose pets may be injured in accidents being disposed of with no contact and consideration made to their owners. These laws are named after those two pets called Tuk’s and Gizmo whose owners have pushed for amendments.
These two occurrences highlighted the failings by authorities and vets to make proper checks prior to or at end of life.
What Information Is Recorded By The Microchip Company?
- 1. The breeders licence number and where that was granted, for example the local authority, if applicable.
- 2.The breed of dog and where crossbred the description.
- 3. The dog’s name.
- 4. The sex of the dog and descriptive colours of the dog.
- 5. The date of birth.
- 6. The name and address of the current keeper including postcode.
- 7. Contact number by mobile/telephone of the keeper
- 8. Any new name given to the dog if changed.
- 9 The unique microchip number. This is provided also on the registration certificate provided by the database microchip company.
\\\ ID Tags
Do Dogs And Cats Have To Wear Collars And ID Tags?
It is law in the UK that both puppies and dogs must wear a collar with an ID plate or disc attached bearing contact details since 2016 in public. Dogs have to wear a collar with a tag on that includes the owners’ name and address when in public places including parks. Owners’ who fail to comply with microchipping pets can be fined up to £500.00 if caught and that includes the failure to have ID presence.
The minute your pet walks out doors it must be wearing the ID information. It is also advised that pets prone to escaping wear these indoors.
Many owners add ‘I’m Tagged’ on the plate or disc which helps anyone finding a stray dog or cat to know immediately to contact a vet or council dog warden to establish ownership by using a special electronic reader put close to the back of the dog or cats scruff that can then display the microchip details on its reading panel. The vet or warden will then log those details into the national database and this will bring up the logged ownership details and the pet and owner can be reunited.
It is vital that pet owners keep their contact details up to date on the microchip databases.
Over the past few years there’s seen a huge rise in very pretty designer pet collars and ID tags available on the high street and online shops. For pets that frequently lose their ID tags, it may be better to buy pet collars with fixed ID plates.
\\\ Missing Pets
Why Do Pets Go Missing
New environments bring a host of new challenges to the pet owner, including dog walking. Pets are thrilled to be in a new environment and may simply forget about commands and obedience.
Here are 10 Tips for pet owners and dogs on holiday, weekends away or special days out –
- Dogs in new surroundings like to take time to sniff out new areas. They may try to wander off so be on guard, making sure they do not disturb the local wildlife habitat.
- Sometimes, they will not return to your whistles and calls, preferring to explore new smells and the local wildlife activity. Make sure you keep them in your view at all times and have treats to encourage them back. If they are not responding, then put them back onto a long line dog lead.
- Follow all signs when dog walking, including those on beaches and cliff tops, dogs wandering on their own do not realise they can fall off cliffs very easily.
- If walking near livestock, keep your dog on the lead. A dog wandering off on it’s own can cause a stampede. Livestock can feel very threatened by the presence of a dog and can become aggressive.
- Farmers use electrical fences and these can provide a nasty shock to a dog, who may bolt and runoff.
- Don’t let your dog scavenge on beaches wandering off on it’s own as there may be sharp objects lying around, may disappear out of site, nursing their injury.
- Water is dangerous to humans and dogs, especially fast-flowing rivers and seas. Pets can easily get lost being swept out to sea in strong currents. Watch your pet at all times.
- Pond and lake water can hold all kinds of unwanted bacteria that will upset your pet if they drink, and they may become so ill they may not return to your calls and whistles. Stagnant water can kill dogs.
- Do not leave your dog in a parked vehicle whilst you enjoy a walk.
- Remember to take your insurance details with you on holiday along with the microchip contact details, just in case of any eventuality will help to speed up repatriation.
\\\ GPS Pet Activity Trackers
Are Pet GPS Activity Tracking Devices Any Good?
Using GPS tracking devices have become highly sophisticated than their first counterparts available two decades or so ago, with multipurpose uses.
A pet tracker is fixed onto your pets collar, now being much lighter, more robust, waterproof and monitors your pet’s movements in real time, tracking the pet, using the best cellular networks, within 1-2 meters distance of your the pet’s true position, with geofencing, and availability of worldwide tracking. Like all new improved technology, now competitively priced and with several companies vying for your business. There are tracking devices that are already fixed into pet collars or those that fit onto the collar. The tracking then offered on a monthly or yearly subscription basis.
For dogs who pick up the slightest scents and love sticking their noses down rabbit holes, situated in bushes, out of your vision, or disobeying commands when distracted and simply disappear, they can be a real bonus!
Cats roam as they are known as feral animals and can be harder to prevent their disappearing. Cats can wear the lighter weight trackers on their collars and be tracked and followed by their owner on the mobile phones, anytime, 24/7.
Cats that are happy and content with regular daily food and water, warm home, content with other pets living alongside them, and have their own designated sanctuary, which appeals to the majority of cats, then it is unlikely they will disappear of their own accord and need the use of a tracker.
For breeds and expensive animals, they can be a bonus when insuring your pet, asking your pet insurance company for a discount as you monitor your pet using a GPS tracking device.
You may like to read further blogs –
- Changes Afoot To Pet Law
- Pet Reform Law
- What Do I Do If My Pet Goes Missing?
- Is Microchipping a Legal Pet Requirement?
- Best Pet GPS Activity Trackers
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