Home North London Beware of social media: warning for UK dog owners as thefts rise...

Beware of social media: warning for UK dog owners as thefts rise | Animals

Justine Quirk’s two dogs

Dog owners ought to be cautious of posting photos of their pet on social media and leaving them unattended exterior outlets, police have warned, amid a rising quantity of dog thefts within the UK.

Last yr, there was a growth in what had been labelled “pandemic puppies” as folks caught at residence throughout lockdown acquired pets to raise their spirits. But DogLost, a UK charity that helps victims of dog theft, recorded a 170% improve within the crime, from 172 canines in 2019 to 465 canines in 2020. And it isn’t simply the UK – Lady Gaga had two French bulldogs stolen on Wednesday evening and her dog walker was shot throughout the theft in Los Angeles.

“The recommendation I might give from a police perspective is bear in mind of social media,” stated Det Supt Neil Austin from the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s acquisitive crime unit. “People share photos of their canines and puppies on social media and fairly often haven’t acquired their privateness settings set appropriately, they usually use tags which clearly present the place you reside which is one thing to bear in mind of.”

Justine Quirk, of DogLost, stated the affect of the pandemic had created an ideal storm for these types of crimes.

“Last March, because of lockdown, heaps of folks thought that this could be the most effective time to introduce a dog to the household. The demand grew actually excessive, and a few folks purchased them on-line with out asking the diligent background questions you’d often asking when shopping for in individual.

“When some folks acquired wind at how costly these canines are, there was a rise of dog thefts by individuals who realised how precious a commodity they’re.”

Quirk has two cockapoos which have elevated in worth since she first bought them. “And now after I stroll them each, they’re price a lot extra now it’s like I’ve £6,000 connected to my wrist.”

Justine Quirk’s two canines. Photograph: Justine Quirk/The Guardian

Research by DogLost additionally discovered probably the most generally stolen breeds had been cocker spaniels and springer spaniels.

“We have two sorts of crime right here. One is the opportunists the place they see a dog by itself they usually steal it. And the opposite is the extra organised aspect the place they aim breeders or people who find themselves promoting puppies on-line,” stated Austin.

He added that, if potential, dog owners ought to keep away from leaving their pet alone whereas out in public, even for a short time. “You shouldn’t depart your dog unattended, and other people nonetheless depart their dog tied up exterior a store,” he stated.

“And additionally, go searching your private home, be sure you’ve acquired some residence safety, CCTV, and that the gates are locked on the backyard. All these types of primary safety steps which you’ll be able to take to cut back the possibility of you having your pet stolen.”

Melina Georgiou, 27, a social media coordinator in Enfield, north London, had her maltipoo, Narla, stolen final Thursday, days earlier than the dog’s first birthday. Narla, together with two different canines, had been within the dog walker’s van when it was stolen. Although two of the canines have been discovered, Narla continues to be lacking.

“She is the apple of our eye and all of us adore her. We inform her we love her each 5 seconds, after which all of a sudden she’s gone and we don’t know if we’re ever going to see her once more. It’s a continuing up and down of feelings, of feeling down about what has occurred, however then feeling motivated to seek out her.”

Daniella Dos Santos, the senior vice-president of the British Veterinary Association, stated it was essential to microchip a dog or pet.

“Microchipping is a protected, efficient and everlasting option to be sure that misplaced or stolen pets will be reunited with their owners. That’s why we’d encourage all owners to microchip their canines by eight weeks of age and to maintain their particulars updated on an authorised microchipping database.”