DOG THEFT ACTION
By Ann Evans
Group shot: Rob Tysall
You only have to listen to the news following Crufts to realise that there are some heartless people around when it comes to respecting animals and their owners. Sadly, animal theft is another devastating crime that is rife. And it’s not just pedigree dogs or puppies that can be in danger of being snatched. Practically any dog is at risk of being stolen by cold-hearted thieves.
The charity Dog Theft Action was established 11 years ago by Sylvia Tabor and became a registered charity in 2006. Its aim is to provide vital information to the victims of dog theft to assist them in their search for their stolen or missing dog. Additionally they promote responsible dog ownership so that dog theft incidents are reduced. And to act as a catalyst, bringing together all agencies involved in the canine world that could have a potential impact on this issue.
We spoke to Nicky Barlow who explained that she got involved with DTA when her house was burgled in 2002 and her bull terrier, Alfie was stolen. Nicky was devastated. “I didn’t stop crying for two days but I never gave up on him being found because I knew he’d been micro-chipped. I knew that if anyone ever took him to a vet for any reason, I would get him home. I never gave up hope.
That hope finally paid off, when four years and 12 days since Alfie went missing Nicky got a phone call informing her that Alfie had been picked up as a stray and taken to a rescue centre where he was scanned for a chip. The chip revealed Julie’s contact details on the data base.
“I didn’t recognise him at first because he was so very thin and filthy – covered in dirt and oil,” said Julie. “He had obviously been outside for a long time. And he was deaf due to the dirt in his ears. But he knew us!”
Nicky went on to stress the importance of having your pet micro-chipped – and of updating that information on the chip’s database should your circumstances change. And should your dog go missing, act quickly.
“Get as much publicity as possible and as quickly as possible – make your dog ‘too hot to handle’.”
She added that any dog is at risk, “Obviously pedigrees will fetch money, but other dogs could be used for breeding or to be sold on. Or, worst case scenario for dog baiting, which horrifically still goes on in this country.”
She made a point of asking people not to buy dogs off the internet or from car boot sales, as these animals could very well be stolen. And says that it you want to buy a dog, then buy one from a rescue centre. Dog owners are also being asked to be aware that dog theft goes on. Sometimes gangs target homes where there’s a dog worth stealing, and will mark the fence or gatepost so that another of their team comes along and takes the dog at the first opportunity.
We also talked to Julie Evans from South Wales, who is desperately still looking for her dog, Hansum – a beagle/springer cross who went missing at Giant’s Grave, Briton Ferry, Wales on 31st May 2014 whilst being exercised with his brother, Harry.
“It’s devastating,” said Julie, who is offering a reward for the return of her dog. “Harry still misses him. He didn’t eat for two months and I was worried that he would starve to death. We got him eating again, by borrowing friends dogs as company for him but he still looks for Hansum even now. Hansum is microchipped and I am praying that one day we will get him back.
DOG THEFT – DON’T BE A VICTIM
- Microchip your dog
- Inform your chip data base of any changes
- Don’t leave your dog unattended outside shops.
- Don’t leave your dog unattended in a vehicle.
- Keep your dog close and in sight on walks.
- Ensure your garden is secure.
- Have a current photograph of your dog.
IF YOUR DOG GOES MISSING
Take the following action:
Inform your data base immediately
Contact the local Dog Warden, rescue centres, local vets, police and get in touch with a Missing Dog site, eg Dog Lost. (www.doglost.co.uk)
For more information: www.dogtheftaction.com