The Stolen And Missing Pets Alliance’s (SAMPA) Dog Theft Awareness Day is in it’s 8th year, an annual event held on 14th March and is the start of Pet Theft Awareness Week.  

Prevention and Advice is top of the agenda while explaining why we need tougher laws to act as a deterrent to protect all our pets.

No one is safe from this crime, the loss of a companion animal is devastating, the mental anguish from pet theft is overwhelming, children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.  As a nation of animal lovers we consider our dogs, cats and other pets as family members.  They are priceless and irreplaceable.

The Stolen And Missing Pets Alliance’s (SAMPA) first Dog Theft Awareness Day was held in Parliament in 2017, hosted by Gareth Johnson MP and was attended and supported by many cross party MPs including a young, enthusiastic Rishi Sunak our now Prime Minister.

Over the last eight  years, we have seen a steady increase year on year especially during the covid pandemic but once again the new theft figures for 2023 reveal another 6% increase according to FOI Police figures.

That’s an average of 6 dogs every day stolen – with the Met Police, Kent Police and West Yorkshire Police reporting the highest number of thefts. Northumbria, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire saw a large spike in thefts.

Sadly the number of dogs returned to their owners is also down, with figures from Direct Line Pet Insurance showing just 16% of pets stolen are returned to their owners the lowest number since 2015.

English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs are the most popular targets for thieves, with the XL bully third.

1. English Bulldog

2. French Bulldog

3. XL Bully

4. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

5. American Bulldog

6. Dachshund

7. Shih Tzu –

8. German Shepherd

9. Labrador

10. Chihuahua

Please remember that not all police forces can provide dog or cat theft figures because pets are categorised as ‘other items’ in the way they record thefts for the Government’s Home Office Crime Report.

Despite the continued drastic increases in the targeting of some breeds by thieves, under the current law, there is still no specific crime for pet theft, with stolen dogs treated like other stolen property.

The new Private Members Bill by Anna Firth MP, for Pet Abduction, is working its way through Parliament and will have it’s third reading on 19th April. Lord Black of Brentford will take the new Bill to the Lords, once it passes the Commons stages. We need our precious pets moved from low priority ’property theft’ to a specific crime to protect the public and secure serious deterrents to stop this cruel crime.

Our work with our Patron Dr Daniel Allen, founder of  Pet Theft Reform resulted in the Government setting  up a Pet Theft Taskforce in 2021, which resulted in the news that Pet Abduction would become a specific offence in the Kept Animal Bill and was working it’s way through Parliament. Sadly this was dropped in May 2023, with the Government saying Pet Abduction could proceed through Parliament as a Private Members Bill and we are delighted that MP Anna Firth has taken up the mantle and taken the Pet Abduction Bill forward.

The Pet Theft Reform campaign is evidence based with Dr Dan writing academic papers on dog theft, he led the campaign to make pet theft a specific offence with three successful Government petitions which triggered three debates in Parliament, we also had the incredible help of Tom Hunt MP, Siobhan Baillie MP, Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, Sir Robert Buckland MP, Dame Priti Patel MP and Rt Hon Boris Johnson.

The new law would  give courts access to appropriate custodial sentences to act as a deterrent, protect the public and give the Police more powers.

The last Cat Theft report from our partners at Pet Theft Awareness found that in 2021, the number of cases increased by an astonishing 40 per cent since 2020 – and had quadrupled since 2015.

Police issues:-

We noted there are some discrepancies on theft figures with police FOI’s, also bearing in mind that one Crime Reference Number refers to the crime not the number of dogs taken. Theft By Finding is a huge issue with no figures available.  We asked Mark Randell, from Hidden In Sight, why this is happening?

Mark Randell is a retired Senior Detective who has now dedicated his time tackling animal abuse. He told us,

“2020 saw an explosion in Pet Theft reports although exact figures are unknown. As a retired Senior Detective  who used to have responsibility in deciding operational police activity based on crime analysis, I fully understand the value of accurate data.

Theft under the Home Office Counting Rules leaves our pets as ‘other items’ alongside other objects that don’t have another home like a wheelbarrow in File 49 . Even lost post has it’s own file!  This is done so that Police Forces can report on crime levels and performance.

Thefts are  sub-divided. ‘Pet Theft’ currently sits hidden from view”.

Mark went on to say, “It is no wonder then that the exact level of this crime explosion is unknown.”

Organised crime has been the driving force behind Dog Theft, which is a criminals dream job, because it’s seen as low risk with high rewards.  The new Pet Abduction offence will act as a deterrent and give pet owners more protection.

Until the new law is in place to protect our dogs they will continue to be listed under ‘other thefts’ as second hand goods with low replacement value.

Karen Harding, DogLost volunteer and Coordinator said,

“One of the things that is very noticeable is that there are large numbers of long-term missing dogs, which are ‘presumed stolen’

Sadly, more and more police forces are only issuing CRNs (Crime Reference Numbers) if there is video evidence of the theft, or eye witness. So many dogs who just disappear are categorised as missing, when they are in effect Stolen.

Another issue that we are seeing, in an escalation in ‘Theft by Finding’ – basically, a dog may escape from home, or on a walk, but then is found, but not taken to a vet or handed into the dog warden. This is known as Theft by Finding – people may keep the dog, sell it on, rehome it themselves or breed from it. All without reporting to the authorities or getting it scanned to see if it is microchipped and has owners. We believe that this is the fate of many of our missing dogs.

Dog Theft is a high income, low penalty crime. Dogs are stolen to breed from, to sell for profit, or to sell for ‘the next fix’ . . . . With the law as it stands, police do not have to investigate, they just log as if it was a phone, bike, wheelbarrow! Thieves know this and take full advantage

Gangs historically will go for certain breeds, depending on what is ‘trending’ at the time. During lockdown/covid, Cockerpoos and similar Poodle crosses couldn’t be bred fast enough to meet demand, so were being stolen to sell, but also to breed from 

Now, with XL Bully’s becoming a banned breed, I guess the rise in thefts is because it will be illegal to bring them into the country and breed from. There is still a call for these dogs, not for domestic pets, so they are ensuring that they are continuing with breeding, illegally, we guess!

If someone’s pet is stolen, then report to the Police, log with us at DogLost on our website, then e-mail into and we will help and advise the whole process”.

All pet owners must double check their pet’s microchip registration.  The UK databases have been letting the public down for years, also two big databases lost registrations while updating their systems .  There are 22 databases meeting the Government standards and one fraudulent database which takes your money but your pet’s chip will read as unregistered! They go by the names UKPetChipRegistry, All Paws and PetChipDetails.

Check which database you are on this free database:

Government list:

We know there have been many reports in the national and local press over the last few months on the increasing numbers of dog thefts and attempted dog thefts. We just want to point out that fortunately the risk to each of us is low, and being Pet Theft Aware, will reduce the risk further by following simple guidelines.

You need to be aware and alert on your dog walks:

Walk with other dog walkers.

Walk at different times of the day and vary your route

Keep your dog in eyesight.

Don’t wear headphones or talk on your phone.

Never leave your dog unattended in your garden, outside shops or in the car.

Check your home and garden security, consider outside sensor lighting and CCTV.

Call 999 if you’ve seen your dog being taken.

Call 101 if you suspect your dog has been stolen or reporting suspicious activity.

Call your dog’s microchip database.

Call the local animal warden

Register on

Call local veterinary clinics and rescues

Get on social media.

If your dog disappeared right now, would you know where to find the microchip registration? Keep your dogs microchip number and the database contact number in your phone!

Don’t know your dog’s microchip number, get the vets to check it for you for free.

Dr Daniel Allen, Animal Geographer at Keele University and SAMPA Patron, responsible for three successful #PetTheftReform petitions and two Parliamentary debates continues to work behind the scenes. Facts and Figures can be found on the Pet Theft Reform website:


Don’t leave your dog outside a shop or supermarket

Don’t let your dog out of sight during exercise

Don’t leave a dog unattended in a vehicle

Make sure your garden, house and outside kennels are secure.

Check gates, lighting and think about CCTV

Be careful who can see your pet’s photos on social media

Change your routine regularly


Always have the following information in your mobile phone:

A clear photo of your pet, showing any distinguishing markings

Your pet’s microchip number

Local Animal Warden’s phone number

Your vet’s phone number

Your dog’s microchip database phone number.

Check your contact details are correct and up to date and flag as missing.

Make sure your details cannot be changed without your permission

Contact DogLost (01633 673859 or email

Use social media

Poster, poster and poster again.

March 14th is #DogTheftAwarenessDay

SAMPA’s legal adviser Professor John Cooper QC explains his draft Pet (Theft) Bill sponsored by MP Ross Thomson who is waiting for a 2nd Reading date in Parliament :-



52% of dogs are stolen from gardens.

19% of dogs are stolen in house burglaries

16% of dogs are stolen while on a walk

7% of dogs are stolen while being tied up outside shops

5% of dogs are stolen from cars


#pettheftreform #theftbyfinding #scanme #checkthatchip

March 14th is #DogTheftAwarenessDay

March 19th is #StolenHorseDay

March 21st #MissingCatDay


We are proud to add the National Animal Welfare Trust as a supporter:- National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) has become the first animal welfare charity to support the #pettheft petition launched by the Stolen and Missing Pet Alliance (SAMPA).

SAMPA wants to lobby Parliament to change the way animal theft crimes are reported and punished, in recognition of the importance pets play in our family lives.

Read More:-

Pet Theft Awareness:-

Our pets are categorised as ‘property’/ ‘personal items’ in law which explains why Pet Theft is on the increase. The punishment does not fit the crime and this is why we need the Government to Reclassify the theft of a pet to a specific crime in its own right.

List of supporting MPs

Gareth Johnson MP for Dartford, Kent. Conservative

Sir David Amess MP for Southend West, Essex.  Conservative

Paula Sherriff MP for Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.  Labour.

Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP for Chingford & Woodford Green, NE London. Conservative

Sir Henry Bellingham MP for North West Norfolk, East Anglia.  Conservative

Jonathan Reynolds MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, Labour (Co-op)

Antoinette Sandbach MP for Eddisbury, Cheshire.  Conservative.

Stephen Gethins MP for North East Fife, Scotland. Scottish National Party

Rt Hon Mark Tami MP for Alyn and Deeside, Scotland. Labour

Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP for New Forest East, Hampshire.  Conservative

Douglas Ross MP for Moray, Scotland.  Conservative

Kevin Foster MP for Torbay, Devon.  Conservative

Julian Knight MP for Solihull, West Midlands.  Conservative

Brendon O’Hara MP for Argyll and Bute, Scotland.  Scottish National Party

Yvonne Fovargue MP for Makersfield, Greater Manchester.  Labour

Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning MP for Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.  Conservative

Mike Hill MP for Hartlepool, County Durham. Labour

Henry Smith MP for Crawley, West Sussex.  Conservative

Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP for Brighton, Kemptown, East Sussex. Labour (Co-op)

Alex Chalk MP for Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.  Conservative

Giles Watling MP for Clacton, Essex.  Conservative

List of MPs who supported the Pet Theft Debate 2 July 2018 

Chaired by Mike Hill MP

Gareth Johnson MP

Ross Thomson MP for Aberdeen South, Scotland.  Conservative

John Howell MP for Henley, Oxfordshire. Conservative

Simon Hart MP for Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire. Conservative

Andrew Rosindell MP for Romford, East London. Conservative

Bob Stewart MP for Beckenham, London.  Conservative

Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger MP for Bridgwater & West Somerset.  Conservative

Jim Cunningham MP for Coventry South,  West Midlands.  Labour

Sue Hayman MP for Workington, Cumbria.  Labour

George Freeman MP for Mid Norfolk, East Anglia. Conservative

Henry Smith MP

Yvonne Forargue MP

Dr Lisa Cameron MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow, Scotland. SNP

Giles Watling MP

MPs attending the drop-in 2nd July 2018 

Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP for Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands.  Conservative

Rt Hon David Hanson MP for Delyn, North Wales. Labour

Sandy Martin MP for Ipswich, Suffolk. Labour

Luke Pollard MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport.  Labour (Co-op)

Sir David Amess MP

Alex Sobel MP for Leeds North West.  Labour (Co-op)

Mohammad Yasmin  MP for Bedford, Bedfordshire. Labour

Julie Cooper MP for Burnley, Lancashire.  Labour

Neil Parish MP for Tiverton & Honiton, Devon.  Conservative

Jo Platt MP for Leigh, Greater Manchester.  Labour (Co-op)

Dog Theft Awareness Day drop-in 14th March 2017

Sponsored by Gareth Johnson MP

Dame Cheryl Gilham MP for Chesham & Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Conservative

James Morris MP for Halesowen & Rowley Regis, West Midlands. Conservative

Lord Trees. (Didn’t sign)

Luke Hall MP

Rt Hon Sir Desmond Swayne MP for New Forest West, Hampshire.  Conservative

Helen Grant MP for Maidstone & The Weald, Kent.  Conservative

Sir Mike Penning MP

Rosie Cooper MP for West Lancashire.   Labour

Rt Hon Sir Roger Gale MP for North Thanet, Kent.  Conservative

Rt Hon Steven Barclay MP for North East Cambridgeshire. Conservative

Andrew Rosindell MP

Sir David Amess MP

Mark Spencer MP for Sherwood, Nottingham.  Conservative

Bill Esterson MP for Sefton Central, Merseyside. Labour

Scott Mann MP for North Cornwall.  Conservative

Christina Rees MP for Neath, Wales.  Labour (Co-op)

Dr Matthew Offord MP for Hendon, London. Conservative

Gavin Robinson MP for Belfast East, Northern Ireland. Democratic Unionist Party

Geraint Davies MP for Swansea West, Wales. Labour (Co-op)

John Stevenson MP for Carlisle, Cumbria.  Conservative.

Rt Hon. Gavin Williamson MP  Chief Whip (Not allowed to sign) (Minister)

Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP for Ludlow, Shropshire.  Conservative

Liz Saville Roberts MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Wales.  Plaid Cymru

Sir Paul Beresford MP for Mole Valley, Surrey.   Conservative

Fiona Bruce MP for Congleton, Cheshire East.  Conservative

Kate Green MP for Stretford & Urmston, Manchester.  Labour

Simon Hart MP

Justin Madders MP for Ellesmere Port & Neston, Cheshire West.  Labour

David Morris MP for Morecambe & Lunesdale, Lancashire.  Conservative

Rishi Sunak MP for Richmond, Yorkshire. Conservative

Craig Tracey MP for North Warwickshire.  Conservative

Craig Mackinlay MP for South Thanet, Kent.  Conservative

Edward Argar MP for Charnwood, Leicestershire.  Conservative

Andrew Bridgen MP for North West Leicestershire.  Conservative

Mary Glindon MP for North Tyneside.  Labour

Chris Davies MP for Brecon & Radnorshire, Wales.  Conservative

Rt Hon John Spellar MP for Warley, West Midlands. Labour

Kerry McCarthy MP for Bristol East.   Labour










Dog Lost

Award-winning DogLost is the country's premier pet reunification service. Its automated alerts and poster generation is supported by a network of volunteers who offer advice and support on the ground as well as the website. It works closely with the police, dog wardens and rescues and it is at the forefront of fighting back against the rising crime of dog theft. The service is entirely free to owners and it helped more than 12,000 last year.

Dog Union

The Dog Union Facebook group

The Dog Union is a social media based organisation. It was formed in June 2012. It now sees its roll primarily as an educational and lobbying organisation working in the areas of canine health and welfare, puppy buying and dog theft although still taking an interest in dog showing and other canine related matters.

Pet Theft Awareness

This is our chance to highlight to a wider audience the misery that thieves are causing by stealing pets and horses. We have three main aims: Prevention, guidance to victims, and to campaign for tougher laws. If you own a pet the chances are that someone else will want it! Some will be irreplaceable pets and many will be highly trained and valuable working dogs.

Vets Get Scanning

When Sir Bruce Forsyth’s daughter’s microchipped dogs were stolen in May ’06, the family found out how the microchip system in place was letting responsible pet owners down. They have been campaigning to get compulsory microchip scanning by vets, rescues, dog wardens and have now included the Highway Agencies and Rail Network. You only find out how microchipping does not work when your pet goes missing!