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250 dogs ‘stolen every day’ says UK insurance survey

A SURVEY by a UK insurance company reveals that over 450,000 people claim to have had their dogs stolen over the past five years, figures which, if accurate, would equate to around 250 dogs being stolen every day in the UK.

Research carried out by Sainsbury’s Bank and released in a report last week indicates that many stolen pets are never reunited with their owners, with around 47% of victims never seeing their beloved dog or cat again.

In a desperate attempt to secure the safe return of their pet, 75% of victims of pet crime turned to their neighbours for help, 47% put up posters in their neighbourhood and 15% placed an advertisement in the local newspaper. Forty-six per cent informed the RSPCA or equivalent local dog or cat home of their lost pet, whilst only 22% contacted the police about the crime.

Simon Worsfold of the missing pet registry Missing Pets Bureau commented: ‘We have dealt with an alarming number of pet-nappings recently, and over the last 12 months cases of dog theft have more than doubled. This is something all pet owners need to be aware of because thieves target all types of pets and not just pedigrees. We advise owners to always be on the guard, never leave their dog unattended, and use multiple forms of identification including microchips, DNA identification and Missing Pets Bureau ID tags to help ensure that if their pet is stolen, they have a better chance of it being returned.’

Despite these distressing findings, many victims may find that their pet insurance policy will offer little or no support. Over a quarter (27%) of all pet insurance policies offer no reward for the return of lost or stolen dogs and over a third (36%) don’t provide a reward for lost or stolen cats.

Gail Baillie, pet insurance manager, Sainsbury’s Bank said: ‘Pet theft is a growing problem so when purchasing pet insurance dog and cat owners should look for a policy that will give them adequate financial cover to help them do all they can to retrieve their pet. Sadly, many offer little or no cover in this area.’

Sainsbury’s Bank and the Missing Pets Bureau offer the following tips on how to protect against pet theft:

Ensure that your pet wears a collar and pet identification tag

Have your pet micro-chipped. This takes seconds and is virtually painless. Consult your local vet for details

Keep garden boundaries as secure as possible to prevent your dog from escaping and also to deter thieves from entering

Always supervise your dog, whether it is in your own garden or in a public area

Try to avoid tying your dog up outside a shop or leaving it unattended

If you use a dog walker, make sure that they are reputable

Vary your routes when walking your dog

Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance prides itself on providing good cover when it comes to pets being stolen. The Bank provides up to £1,000 towards the advertising costs for a lost dog or cat and up to £750 compensation if the pet is lost or stolen and not returned.

Sainsbury’s research gives the following figures for people claiming to have had their dog, cat or both stolen in the past five years: Dog 456,343 Cat 400,715 Both 109,426

Margaret Nawrockyi, Co-ordinator of anti-dog theft action group Dog Theft Action commented: ‘It is very difficult to accurately quantify the number of dog thefts on a daily or even weekly or monthly basis. No national survey has been conducted that gives a totally definitive picture of the growth of dog theft nationally.

Anecdotally, dog theft is certainly on the increase and needs to be addressed seriously. Sainsbury’s Bank is to be congratulated for raising the issue and sharing their findings with all concerned agencies. Hopefully in the near future we will have a facility that will collate and share all statistics related to this distressing crime.’