The rise in dog thefts over the past 12 months has left Britain’s pet owners concerned that even in the comfort of their own gardens, their dogs are not safe, according to research from Churchill Pet Insurance.

An alarming 41 per cent of dog owners claimed that they are worried their dogs are not safe outside. While some owners felt fencing and gates eased their concern slightly, nearly a third (31 per cent) said they still feared the worst.

Pete Bishenden, head of Churchill Pet Insurance, comments: “It is such a shame that even though we have had one of the best weather spells in years, our research revealed that 38 per cent of dog owners have been limiting the time their dogs spend outside. Of the 1,167 pet owners questioned, 66 per cent admitted that they felt their dog’s breed made them more covetable by potential thieves. We know from our own claims experience that certain breeds are more popular to sell on, such as smaller, more docile dogs. We have also seen Lurchers and other breeds taken for dog baiting. Over half also claimed that they felt their dog’s age, from a puppy up to three years old, made them more susceptible.”

One dog owner, who took part in the survey, shared her own story: “I owned a very small, elderly Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who was snatched from our front garden. We think the people who stole him thought he was a puppy, given his small size. After closer inspection, the thieves realised his true age and the dog was dumped by the side of the road in the next village. A kind member of the public found him, took him to the police and we managed to get him back the next day.”

Another dog owner commented she had witnessed a dog napping, but only realised when it was too late. She urges people not to leave their dogs tied up outside shops as a result.

K9 Magazine editor, Ryan O’Meara, offered his thoughts on the findings: “For many, our dogs are very much a key part of our family unit and so it’s not surprising that many worry about their pet’s safety. It is, however, very sad that dog napping is on the rise. Many years ago it was something you heard about every now and again. Now, the fact that almost everyone we spoke to when carrying out the research has heard of dogs being stolen shows that this is a real threat that dog owners must take seriously.”

Churchill Insurance and K9 Magazine’s dog security tips

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  • Be careful not to leave gates open
  • Make sure that your fence and gate is high and secure enough
  • Fit a bell to your gate so you’re alerted when it’s opened
  • Make sure there are no broken or unsafe panels to your fence which could easily be broken or removed
  • Ensure your dogs are visible to you in the garden at all times
  • Have your dog microchipped with your details registered, and keep the details up to date
  • Never leave your dog unattended outside a shop or in your vehicle
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