Gundog theft has risen by 65% in 2020

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Gone are the days when you could safely leave your dog tied up outside the local village post office. Do that now and you’re inviting gundog theft.

We’ve written about it in detail before but this week is Gundog Theft Awareness Week which highlights the dangers and heartbreak of having your dog stolen.

We spoke to Lisa Dean who runs Beauty’s Legacy which works to reunite lost and stolen dogs, working  closely with Dogs Lost and the police. She advised: “Really keep your dogs in sight now, even when they are working out in the field. Keep recalling them. Around the kennels put in the best CCTV you can. Gundogs are popular with thieves as they are well trained, socialised and from appealing breeds. They also command high prices. This year gundog theft has soared by 65% due to lockdown prompting people to get dogs so make sure yours are protected.

“Make sure the microchip details are up to date and too. If you do lose your dogs make use of banners, social media appeals and tell the police.”

Working dog breeds a target

Look at the list of missing dogs on Dog Lost and you will see many working dog breeds; cocker spaniels, vizslas, Labradors and springer spaniels.

Earlier this year  Shooting Times reported on the case of Emily Kretz and her boyfriend Francis Bere, a gamekeeper, whose springer bitch was stolen from a kennel in Somerset. Emily called the theft “a punch to the heart”. Just a few weeks earlier, gamekeeper Reece Ronald had all four of his working dogs taken from his kennels.

Wayne May, a director of  Dog Lost is one of the country’s foremost experts on gundog theft. In 2008 six of his own working gundogs were stolen and he has helped to recover more than 200 stolen gundogs. He warns:

“There are people specifically looking for working gundogs,” he said. “I refer to it as organised crime, where they will target gamekeepers, beaters and anyone with gundogs. You don’t know who these people are but they are watching you all the time. Social media is one of the main ways they identify targets. We all like to talk about how good our dogs are and the dog’s name becomes recognised.”

Sadly figures show that only around 17% of dogs are returned to their owners.

Gundog theft awareness week – tips to keep your working dogs safe

  • Never leave your vehicle unlocked with dogs inside or with tailgates and windows left open
  • Make sure your kennels have the best security you can provide, including CCTV, alarmed padlocks and security lighting
  • Ask your local crime prevention officer to look around and suggest how you can improve your security
  • Think about dog transit crates with alarmed padlocks
  • Tinted windows on your vehicle will the view obscure of any passers by
  • Take up to date pictures of your dogs from different angles in case you need them
  • Keep an eye out for any suspicious activity, marks made outside your property or drive-bys.