With so much of the world hanging in limbo right now, it’s natural that we lean on those who bring security and comfort to us, including our pets. Australia is undoubtably a nation of pet lovers with approximately 61% of households owing pets. But unfortunately, during these tough times people who do not have an animal companion back at home are sometimes turning to stealing them instead.
The increase in theft over the past year has been substantial. Latest data to September 2020, shows 232 dogs were stolen in Victoria alone* - an increase of 34 on the same time last year - or almost 20 per cent. Australia is not the only country to be experiencing this issue.
The UK is also a country of pet lovers as more than 50% of its residents own at least one pet. When compared to Australia the UK is struggling even more with the issue of dog theft, as the number of thefts has increased by a staggering 250% over the last year.
With the increase in people working from home, and keeping social interaction to a limited level, it’s no doubt that people are wanting to have an animal companion with them. Because of this demand there has been cases reported of shelters and rescues having been completely emptied for the first time ever in their operational history.
With demand so high many people are competing over the adoption of the same animal and many applicants are missing out. This increase in demand and shortage of supply has led to people turning to illegal means to secure a dog for their home.
This new demand for dogs has also had the effect of driving up the prices of puppies for sale. Some breeds that may have cost $1,000 in the past are now selling for double or sometimes even triple that amount. This increase in market value, particularly in certain high demand breeds, has sparked the interest of criminals who are looking to make profits from this lucrative market.
Breeds that criminals seem to target most are the breeds that are currently “fashionable” including French Bulldogs, Pugs, and Cavoodles. As well as dogs who have unusual markings or rare colouring. Dogs that are less common but that sell for a higher price point because of their “rarity” are also targeted.
Many criminals target the homes of people who work long shifts out of home or overnight shifts and have their dogs unattended at home, especially if they are out in the backyard which gives them easier access to the dog.
However, dog thefts not only happen within the home but in public places too. Many times, dogs will be stolen outside shops where owners tie them up outside, thinking they will be safe. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for someone to walk up to a dog and pretend to be its owner, especially if the dog is very friendly and social in nature.
This Sunday, February 14, marks National Pet Theft Awareness Day - an initiative aimed at educating owners on the best ways to keep their pets safe. To protect your dog from these increasing thefts during the pandemic, make sure you take extra precautions. Ensure your dog is microchipped and that the details registered are accurate and up to date.
Make sure all gates around your property are secured when you leave your home and regularly check for any damage to fences or locks. Small damages may go unnoticed and provide easier access for criminals to enter, or for your dog to escape the yard.
When you take your dog to the shops try to not leave them unattended for long periods of time. As we know however this is not always possible, so our leash and harness set are the perfect solution for you to have peace of mind that your pet is more secure. The stitched in stainless steel stops thieves from cutting it off, while the passcode protected lead adds another layer of security.
*Crime Statistics Bureau Victoria