The theft of dogs.

A guest post from Gabby!

Not that long ago I was contacted by Gabriella Coppolecchia, or Gabby for short, about writing a guest post. Of course that was alright especially as Gabby comes from the U.K.. In fact, as her bio explains:

Gabriella Coppolecchia is a young dog trainer and dog walker in Chelmsford, Essex. During her studies she realised that there is a lot of misinformation around the world of dogs and she vowed to help people overcome the confusion. Her fiancé suggested she would write a blog since she can’t stop talking about dogs anyway. So along with her day business, she created Cinofilo.

Indeed, the blog site is now available and the address is

This is a photograph of Gabby:

So let’s welcome her to this world of blogging and her first guest post on Learning from Dogs. (And, hopefully, not her last!)




Dog theft is a phenomenon always on the rise. Here in the UK, I’m seeing missing dog posts on Facebook everyday. Most people believe it’s confined to a bad neighbourhood but it’s not. It can happen anywhere and almost to anyone. There are a few dogs that are the perfect target for dog theft and these despicable people will steal your dog to make an easy buck.

Why Dogs get stolen

1. Purebred dogs

With the cost of purebred dogs on the rise and the creation of always new breeds (such as labradoodle and cockapoo), more and more people are attracted to this huge market. If not neutered or spayed, stolen dogs could end up in the hands of other dog breeders that will use them as the studs or the bitches that will produce the new generations. These people might also steal puppies and disguise themselves (or have someone else doing so) as hobby breeders with one last puppy left and sell these dogs again for half of their original value. Or they might claim to be someone that wants to sell their own pet because they can no longer take care of him. They will justify the dog’s price by saying that they don’t want to lose the money they have spent when they bought “their” dog. To unsuspecting and uninformed first time buyers these could all look like legitimate trades. These people might look like regular neighbours, with regular jobs and regular families.

2. Weak, young and small dogs

The illegal world of dog-fighting always requires some new dogs to sacrifice for training. This training needs to be pretty safe and easy for the dogs that will be enlisted in the matches. Weak, young and small dogs are considered the best choice because they have slim to none chances of survival against their opponent and because they will not be able to injure him. Bigger and strong dogs will sometimes be used but only with their mouth taped shut. This training is effective because winning all the fights during training will boost the winner’s confidence. In turn, when the real match happens, the dog will think that winning will be easy and he will not recognise the danger. Not even when it’s charging right at him, jaws open. The dogs for the training are often acquired by online ads of dogs that need re-homing and that are given away for free. But when this source starts to become scarce, these people will start stealing.

3. Fila Brasileiro, Dogo Argentino, Tosa Inu, Presa Canario and Pitt Bulls

These dogs might also be stolen for the dog-fighting world. If not neutered or spayed these dogs could become breeders that will supply new champions. Or they end up being the ones that will be trained to fight for the entertainment of horrible people.

In general

There are also dogs that are not targeted for a specific feature. These dogs might be stolen because these thieves will wait for a large ransom to be put out and then will return the dog claiming to have found him. Another reason is to sell dogs to research, veterinary and medical facilities that need them for testing and experiments. These facilities will not do a thorough research on the animal’s past, especially because they often use a third party to get the dogs.This makes it easy for the thieves to sell stolen pets to them.

Once your dog is stolen, he will likely be quickly moved many miles away and it will become very difficult to trace the bad guy’s steps. So the best course of action is to try and prevent this from happening.

How targets get chosen

To steal your pet, there are a number of tactics that they can use. Simply put, anytime your dog is out of your sight, he can become a target. But there are a few everyday situations that often occur that might make things easier for these thieves.

1. shops

We have all done it. We need to pop in a shop for a second and we think it’s easier to leave our dog tied outside. We think it’s going to be fine. We’ll only take a minute and that moment it’s enough for a thief. Especially if we end up taking longer than expected or if we can’t really keep an eye on our dog from inside the shop.

2. back gardens 

We might think that the fence of our back garden is high enough and we think that if we are home we will be able to keep an eye on our dog. But we are often wrong. These thieves will usually study their targets for a while. They will monitor the times your dogs spends outside and find the right time to strike.

3. car

A dog should never be left in a car unattended but this is not just for the risk of heatstroke. A car is not a secure place. The only thing in the way of those thieves is your car window and that’s pretty easy to break. Another problem is that when we leave our dog in a car, we feel like he is more safe than tied outside. Overestimating his safety means that we feel comfortable going farther and leaving him alone for longer.

4. off-leash walks

When on walks, your dog might be used to spend some time off leash. This often happens when you are in a park and you want to give your dog more freedom to explore in a car free space. While exploring it could be easy for a dog to go too far and out of sight for a while. This is often enough for a thief to snatch your dog right under your supervision.

How to keep them safe

There are a few things that you can do to help your pet be safer and keep your mind more at ease.

1. less information

It’s always nice, when people that we meet on a walk, stop us to compliment our dog. This can happen at every walk and often several times during the same walk. Although most people will only ask a couple of questions out of curiosity, you never know when you have a thief right in front of you. These people will often ask more information and you might start suddenly seeing them often, even when you never used to see them before. They will ask questions like your dog’s name, if he is friendly, if you can let him off, if you walk around the area around the same times, if you live close by. These are all informations that can help the bad guy see a pattern in your routine and that can uncover an opportunity for him to act. So if faced with all these questions try to remain very vague or lie about some details. You could say that you don’t always walk at the same times. Or maybe you can say that you like the area for walks but you live quite far and you actually have to drive there.

2. vary your routes

I’m sure you and your dog have a favourite route. Maybe you like the pond he can swim in or maybe you like the dogs you meet. But going to the same routes everyday might give the bad guys the opportunity to study you and gain information that they can use to put their plan into motion. Instead choose 3-4 different routes and try to alternate them in an unpredictable way.

3. keep a close eye

As I said, basically, every time you keep your eyes off your dog he could get stolen. So if you are out and you need to pop in a shop, try asking someone that works there if they can wait outside with your dog as you are shopping. This might not always be possible but it’s worth a shot. Moreover most people will happily take a break from work to pet your dog as they wait. If your dog, when off leash, tends to go so far he is often out of sight, you could try a different spot, such as a big clearing, where your dog will hardly ever be out of sight. If, instead, you are worried your dog might get stolen from your garden, try a higher fence and don’t take the habit of leaving your back door open at all times. Only let your dog out when he asks.

4. security system

Installing cameras and an alarm system around your house and your garden might be a real weapon against burglars and bad guys in general. As well as protecting your dog, they are optimal for keeping your family safe. These can be a powerful deterrent for anyone looking for an easy target, and can be an even more powerful source of information in case someone should still decide to break in.There are all sorts of pet friendly security systems that will not be accidentally activated from your dog.

5. identification

By law a dog should be microchipped and should be wearing a collar with name tag at all times. Thieves can easily remove the collar and it’s even possible for them to go to a vet and change the ownership to them, no questions asked. This is becoming more rare but it still can happen. If the vet checks the owner the dog is registered to and contacts the registered number, you could be contacted by the vets that will have your dog at that time. Something what could also happen is that your dog might be abandoned once the bad guys no longer need him. Someone could then find him and take him to a vet where he would be identified.

6. GPS tracking collars

This kind of technology is more useful for a lost pet than a stolen one, mostly because a thief can easily remove the collar and dump it somewhere. There are however collars that have an hidden GPS tracker. This can make it look like a regular collar and a thief might not feel the need to remove the collar until later. This can give an idea of where your pet is or has been and give an indication of who might be responsible. It might not be much but it can mean a higher chance of finding your beloved pet.

What to do if your dog gets stolen

If you believe your dog has been stolen there are a few things that you can do:

1. report

Report your dog missing to the microchip databases (petlog, PETtrack and Identibase). They can contact you if your dog’s microchip gets scanned and the guardianship details checked. Report to the police, making sure to give all the informations that come to mind. Even the ones that you don’t redeem relevant can help. Be sure to tell them when you last saw your pet and when and how you think he has been stolen. Tell them if you met someone suspicious during your walk or if you saw someone suspicious walking around your house. Tell them the routes you use during your walks and be sure to describe any special feature that your dog might have.

2. tell everyone

Put up posters in your local area. If your dog is still in town someone might see him. Post about your missing dog on social media and ask for help from the community. Register your pet on social media groups or on dedicated websites that help people reunite with missing dogs. Start locally but then widen your range.

Now that you have more information I hope you’ll start feeling safer. But if you are here because your pet has been stolen, here some links to websites that can help. There are a lot more but these are a start:








I think this is a terrific post and I’m delighted that Gabby contacted me and went on to post this. All over the world readers will be aware of the issue and Gabby has done a fine job in describing what one can do.

More please!

11 thoughts on “The theft of dogs.

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