Birmingham park warns that dognappers have targeted their neighbourhood

The RSPCA has advice on preventing dogs from going missing or getting stolen as a park in south Birmingham warns visitors about dognapping in the area

A popular Birmingham park has warned visitors that dognappers have been targeting their neighbourhood.

The Rowheath Pavillion team in Bournville issued the warning to residents that dogs were under threat of being stolen in the area.

On their Facebook page, Rowheath Pavilion, set in the middle of Rowheath Park, said: “Dog nappers have been reported in the area. Please be extra vigilant!”

The team then updated the public, saying: “This does not directly affect Rowheath Pavilion grounds. There were reports about this in the general area that we just wanted to share!

“Please don’t let this stop your dogs from enjoying Rowheath! Please be extra vigilant and keep an eye on your dogs at all times. We thank you for your co-operation.”

Losing a pet is a painful experience and there are soon going to be laws persecuting those who steal them. The Kept Animals Bill is in the House of Commons at the report stage.

In November 2021, a new criminal offence to crack down on dog theft and put people who steal these much loved pets behind bars for up to five years was set out in the government legislation.

Yet the number of dog thefts reported to the police have gone down over the years. In 2018, 31 dogs were reported missing, as per an FOI to the West Midlands Police. In 2019, it went down to 18 and it was the same in 2020.

However, there might still be unreported incidents taking place as dog owners share of their heartbreak on social media groups.

How to keep your pets safe (Photo - Unsplash/Alvan Nee)

In Great Barr, a French Bulldog was handed into the care of Vets today (January 24) after it went missing. Thankfully, the owner was made aware of it even though the dog was not microchipped, as seen on K9Searchuk.com.

Some of dogs found could have been abandoned as well. One person shared that she found a dog roaming the streets in Kings Norton.

She fed and secured him in her back garden and then posted about him on social media hoping that someone would respond to her post, as seen on Birmingham lost found dogs UK Facebook group.

Not everyone is aware of the steps to take after a dog is found or lost. For instance, a dog that is lost or found needs to be reported to the local dog warden.

An RSPCA spokesperson said: “As an animal welfare charity the RSPCA doesn’t deal directly with pet theft - leaving criminal matters such as this to the expertise of police - so we’d urge anyone who believes their pooch has been taken to report the incident to police immediately.

“We’d urge all dog owners to take extra precautions to protect their pooches from thieves by neutering their pets, ensuring they are microchipped with up-to-date contact details registered, ensuring they wear a collar with contact details embroidered or an engraved ID tag. We’d also advise that owners never leave their pets tied up outside shops or alone in cars, ensure their gardens are secure with gates locked, and ensure their pet has a good recall and doesn’t stray too far when off-lead on walks.

“Anyone who suspects their dog may have been stolen should immediately alert police, contact their microchip company to register their pet as stolen and inform local rescue groups, vets, dog walkers and neighbours.

Here is how you can keep your dogs safe (Unsplash/Camilo Fierro)

“It is a legal requirement to have dogs microchipped in England and there are also plans to make cat microchipping mandatory. The RSPCA would encourage all owners to get their pets microchipped.

“Microchipping is a very easy procedure. It involves a tiny microchip being quickly and simply inserted under the animal’s skin and this then gives the pet their own unique code.

“The microchip can be scanned and matched to the owner’s contact details which are kept on a database.

“Thousands of pets are lost and stolen every year and many are never reunited with their owners but microchipping can help to change that. While collars and tags can get caught or removed – microchipping identifies pets permanently and effectively.

“If an owner moves house or changes their telephone number they must make sure that they tell the database they are registered with so that they have up-to-date contact details.

“Pet theft is devastating, so it is also welcome that the UK Government is looking to crack down on those who steal dogs with a new dog abduction offence as part of the Kept Animals Bill.”

The RSPCA has more advice on preventing dogs from going missing or getting stolen on their website.

According to them here are the ways to prevent dog theft:

  • Don’t leave your dog outside a shop on their own or in a car unattended.
  • Train them to return when called.
  • Don’t take them off the lead if you are not sure if they’ll return when called. You can use a long-line lead, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar area where your dog may get lost more easily.
  • Secure your garden and if you have a gate, add a lock. Also, add a bell to the gate so you know when it opens.
  • Keep your dog in your view, even in the garden.
  • One of the most important steps is to microchip your dogs. It increases the chances of them being reunited with you. Microchipping is a legal requirement.
  • Another important point is to update your contact details on the database.
  • Ensure you have recent photos of your pet and note any unique features.
  • Find a trusted person to care for your dog. Use a reputable company or boarding kennels, and check references for people who provide dog or house-sitting services.
  • Neuter your pet.
  • Put a collar and tag on your pet.