Fightback from dog owners against the scourge of dog thefts in the UK

If you are reading the newspapers from cover to cover as I do you would be unlikely to miss the almost weekly stories of dogs being stolen sometimes under violent conditions by determined thieves. The most recent and perhaps most violent example is the story concerning Lady Gaga, whose three French Bulldog were being walked by a dog walker employed by the film star in Los Angeles. A couple of men apparently jumped out of a car demanding the three toy dogs. One of the dogs ran off and the other two were captured by one of the two men.

Tiger King and dog Timber
Tiger King and dog Timber. Photo: The Times.

In order to take the dogs from the dog walker who refused to cooperate, they shot this employee of lady Gaga in the chest with a handgun. He survived and is undergoing treatment at a Los Angeles hospital. He was walking the dogs in a fancy part of Los Angeles apparently. Nobody is immune. Lady Gaga has issued a $500,000 reward. She is currently filming ‘Gucci’ directed by Ridley Scott in Italy.

In the UK there are also some high-profile dog thefts. Dog owners have become very aware of them and they realise they can’t rely on the police for various reasons. One of which is a lack of evidence which is always hard to find in dog thefts and secondly there is invariably a certain amount of police apathy because dog thefts are quite low profile crimes. They are not low-profile for the dogs’ owners but they are in the minds of the police.

Well, a guy called Nigel King heard about a missing dog in his area last November and helped to organise a search. A young spaniel called Nora had been stolen. There are many other dog thefts across Britain. The surge has been put down to “pandemic puppies”. These are dogs adopted during the pandemic to keep people company. Prices have also risen sharply because that is how the marketplace works. Nora has not been found but Mr King wanted to do more.

He sat down and thought about it and asked what he could do. He is a retired businessman and former RAF pilot based in Northumberland. Although there are many groups looking for missing dogs they weren’t covering the “precious minute” just before or after the theft.

He founded DogHorn. It’s a campaign in which communities throughout the country create their own watch zones. Over a month, twelve groups have been formed nationally and there are more on the way. Members of these groups where lanyards and they are armed with whistles to blow a special code when danger arises. They alert members and anyone else around. It is modelled on the old policeman’s whistle in days gone past when they would shout ‘stop thief!’.

The campaign is online and through a shop they sell posters, high visibility vests, red marker spray and alarms. They share tips and legal advice. There are other groups being created to fight back against this scourge of theft. For example, Serena Simmons started a group last week in Nottinghamshire. Their plan is to pair up people so that they can walk their dogs together.

The underlying story is that people are fed up. They can’t rely on the police so they rely upon themselves. It is been like that in many aspects of life in the UK for some time. It is good to see. People must be vigilant when walking their dog because these thieves have no compunction in pushing people over and grabbing the dog’s lead. If the person resists violence can follow.

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