National Dog Theft Awareness Day – March 14, 2023

National Dog Theft Awareness Day is observed on March 14. The goal of the holiday is to spread the word about the dangers of dog theft, educating people on the statistics and teaching them how to prevent their pets from getting stolen. Most people believe that dog theft is an opportunistic crime, but data suggests that organized crime is the main force behind it, and the trade is lucrative since it is low-risk and high-reward. This evil will continue unless stricter rules are enacted, so dog owners must take action to safeguard their pets.

History of National Dog Theft Awareness Day

In 2016, the Stolen and Missing Pets Alliance (SAMPA) came up with National Dog Theft Awareness Day. This annual event marks the start of Pet Theft Awareness Week in the U.K. The first event was held in Parliament in 2017. Since then, SAMPA has worked with British M.P.s to introduce stricter legislation against dog theft.

The British government set up a Pet Theft Taskforce with help from M.P.s like Tom Hunt, Siobhan Baillie, Ian Duncan Smith, Robert Buckland, and Priti Patel. This task force aims to make dog theft a specific offense in the Kept Animal Bill. The new law would give courts the authority to hand out appropriate custodial sentences to deter dog theft, protect the public, and provide the police with more control over such cases.

British theater star Sheridan Smith was a victim of dog theft twice in one month in 2010. After appealing for help from her followers on social media, Smith was reunited with Enid, her Shar-Pei. In 2016, a greyhound worth more than one million dollars was stolen from its trainer’s kennels in Ireland. The dog was held for ransom and was recovered by Irish police at the hideout of known criminals a day later. Under the Theft Act of 1968, stealing a dog is a crime. However, dogs are classified as personal property in the U.K. The severity of the sentence depends on the value of the dog. Under current laws, dog thieves receive a maximum of seven years in prison.

National Dog Theft Awareness Day timeline

1934
The Disappearance of Handsome Dan

Handsome Dan, the Yale University mascot, is kidnapped by Harvard students.

1948
Dognapping for Ransom

Richardson Wright, the editor of “House & Garden” magazine, loses his Pekingese puppy to a passing motorist who later calls him to demand as much money as he can pay for the dog’s safe return.

1959
The Great Poodle Ransom

Ten poodles worth $25,000 are ransomed for $5,000 in New York State; the criminals are later caught and charged with burglary.

1964
Hi Joe the Greyhound

A British Greyhound is reported stolen from its trainer’s kennel in Britain’s first dognapping case.

National Dog Theft Awareness Day FAQs

What is it called when someone steals a dog?

The term for dog theft is dognapping.

How do I stop someone from stealing my dog?

Use collars, tags, and microchips, and keep an eye on your dog.

How many dogs are stolen in the U.S. each year?

Every year, two million dogs are stolen in the U.S.

How to Observe National Dog Theft Awareness Day

  1. Get your dog microchipped

    Microchipping dramatically improves the chances of recovering your dog if it gets lost or stolen. Microchips also work as a permanent form of identification between dogs and their original owners.

  2. Spay or neuter your dog

    Many pets are stolen for breeding purposes. Spaying or neutering your dogs lowers their desire to roam searching for a mate and may discourage thieves who steal pets for illegal breeding mills.

  3. Be proactive and vigilant

    Don’t let your dog roam unsupervised, even in your compound. Keep a collar with an up-to-date license and ID tags for easy identification.

5 Fast Facts About Dog Theft

  1. Most missing dogs are never recovered

    More than 70% of missing dogs are never found.

  2. Where do they go?

    Most stolen dogs are sold to breeding mills; others are used as “bait dogs” to train illegal fighting canines, and some are sold for thousands on the street.

  3. Microchips are the best defense

    Microchips let dog owners trace their dogs' whereabouts using smartphone apps.

  4. Rewards incentivize dog theft

    Offering cash rewards for missing dogs may speed the recovery process, but it also encourages dog theft and makes it more appealing — some thieves steal dogs and then pose as rescuers to cash in on the reward.

  5. Purebred dogs are the most prominent targets

    Thieves target dogs with a high resale value and turnover rate on the market; this includes purebreds like Labradors, German Shepherds, Pit bulls, and Chihuahuas.

Why National Dog Theft Awareness Day is Important

  1. Keeping our pets safe

    Spreading awareness about dog theft makes pet owners more informed and responsible. They become vigilant and take the proper steps to safeguard their dogs.

  2. Deterring criminals

    Through microchipping, collar I.D.s, and practices like spaying or neutering, dog owners can deter criminals from stealing their pets. Pet thieves don’t like getting tracked, and a dog that can’t breed is of little use to them.

  3. More political interest

    Politicians are lawmakers, often acting if only they get pressured hard enough by their constituents. National Dog Theft Awareness Day is an opportunity for people to call on their leaders to resolve the problem. Already, several British M.P.s are involved in the process of trying to introduce stiffer penalties for dog theft.

National Dog Theft Awareness Day dates

YearDateDay
2023March 14Tuesday
2024March 14Thursday
2025March 14Friday
2026March 14Saturday
2027March 14Sunday

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