Instances of pet theft are rare in North Yorkshire but we know that pets are an important part of many families and we want to help you keep them safe and protected.
We have implemented a pet theft lead and a small team of pet theft liaison officers who can offer specialist advice and support to pet owners. Plus, we've produced guidance on how to best protect your pets and what to do if they go missing.
Many of our team are pet owners themselves and fully understand the emotional impact it can have if pets go missing or are stolen. We are here to help you and rest assured, we take all incidents of this nature very seriously.
Keeping your pet safe
Pets are easily stolen from a garden when left unattended, even for just a few minutes. Front gardens are very vulnerable. Fit a bell or gate alarm to any rear or side gates - the gates should be secured with a British Standard lock.
Secure your garden boundary to prevent your pet from escaping or a thief from reaching in and taking them.
Be careful of sharing or publicly posting on social media details of where you live, the type of dog you have and where you walk.
If you need to use a dog walking service or kennels, ensure they are licensed and reputable.
Never leave your dog unattended in a car – especially on warm days.It is not only dangerous for their health but allows them to be easily targeted by thieves.
Leaving your dog alone outside a shop is another easy opportunity for a thief, even if you are only away for a minute.
It’s important your dog will return when called - if they are not trained in recall, be very careful allowing them off the lead.
Vary the times and routes you take when walking your dog.
Be wary of strangers engaging you in conversation when you are walking your dog – keep an eye on your dog at all times.
Make sure your dog is microchipped and the details are correct on a recognised pet registration database. Your dog must be microchipped by the time it is eight weeks old.
Fit your dog with a collar - the tag on the collar should have a contact number and your surname, not the name of the dog.
Make sure you take pictures of your dog from various angles, especially if they have distinctive features. A further photo of you with your dog can help to prove ownership. Taking photos of your dog in various conditions can also help, such as with a groomed coat and an untidy one.
What to do if your pet goes missing
Act quickly and do what you can to make your pet ‘too hot to handle’.
If your pet is microchipped, immediately inform your microchip database and all of your local vets and rescue centres.
If your dog is lost on a walk, go back to your car as they often find their way back there. Check any areas where people (and food!) gather like cafes or shops. Leave your contact details and a description of your dog just in case. Consider leaving some of your worn clothing outside and contact Dog Search groups.
If your pet has escaped from your garden or is missing locally, search the area (remembering to look up as cats do have a tendency to climb trees) and hand out your contact details to neighbours, postal workers, local dog walkers and others who cover the local area. Post details on any local Facebook community site.
Report the loss to your local authority animal warden and those in neighbouring local council areas.
In the event of a theft
If you believe your pet has been stolen, report the theft to the police ASAP and ask for a Crime Reference Number. Also check if there was any CCTV operating in the area that might provide clues.
Register your pet as missing on as many ‘Missing Pet’ websites as possible. Useful contacts can be found at the bottom of this page.
Put up your own missing pet posters and place them everywhere you can in the area local to your home or where the pet went missing. Do remember to take them down when you are eventually reunited with your pet.
Ensure there is someone available to receive calls at the phone number that is on the pet’s tag/advert.
Make full use of social media. You can also contact the local media.
Be scam aware
Keep in regular contact with the police officer assigned to your case, known as the ‘Officer in Case’.
Don’t pay ransoms - if someone demands money for the safe return of your pet, contact the police.
Don’t meet anyone purporting to have your pet without liaising with the Officer in Case for your incident.
Check-a-Chip www.check-a-chip.co.uk Input your pet’s microchip number and find out which database they are registered with and the phone number for that database.
Safe Pet Buying
The demand for pets is at an all time high and this creates a perfect opportunity for scammers. Never pay any money for a pet that you have not seen in person and take extra steps to ensure you are buying from a legitimate breeder or seller.
The RSPCA has guidance on safe pet buying and rehoming if this is something you are considering. www.rspca.org.uk