Stolen dogs in Ireland: What’s happening and what can be done?

The theft of dogs is a growing problem in Ireland

All across Ireland, there is a new nationwide trend for pet dogs to be stolen, for one of the following reasons:

  • To be sold on (especially pedigree dogs)
  • To be used for dog fighting as bait (any dog)
  • To be used for racing (especially running type dogs such as lurchers)
  • To be held to ransom
  • To be bred to produce puppies for sale
  • To be used for “lamping”, hunting or poaching

Dogs are being stolen by a range of different individuals, including criminal gangs and lawless individuals on the move around the country.

A new threat is dogs being stolen from boarding kennels – this happened to two dogs together in the past two months – they were eventually retrieved after a huge publicity campaign. One of those dogs – Erin – is pictured above.

Preventing dog theft

The best answer to this problem is to prevent theft in the first place. The following tips help:

  • Microchip your dog and double check that your online database contact details match the chip (ask your vet to check for you if you don’t know how).
  • Have your dog spayed and neutered so that they cannot be used for breeding.
  • Put a tag on your dog highlighting that he/she is microchipped and spayed/neutered. This will reduce the desirability of the animal.
  • When exercising/walking your dog keep him/her on a lead at all times in public areas (a woman walking her dog on a beach recently had her dog off lead and two men tried to bundle her dog in to their car)
  • Don’t have your dog out in public unless it is under adult supervision (Two strangers tried to take a dog off a child recently while being walked by the child. The DSPCA reported last week that a woman called them from Tallaght to say her children brought the family Jack Russell terrier out in to the front garden playing with it. A van pulled up and picked the terrier up and put it in to the van.)
  • When using boarding kennels or pet sitters, ask them and verify if dogs have ever been stolen while in their care and walk away if so. Also ask them about security measures and if they have insurance.
  • If your dog is kept in the yard ensure that it is kept in a locked pen/run. Or that the walls of the yard are secure enough to stop to thieves climbing over.
  • Don’t tie your dog up unsupervised outside a shop while you go in.
  • Don’t leave your dog unattended in the car – first, of course, because of heat, but also because of theft. There are many instances of dogs being stolen from parked unattended cars.
  • Be aware of strangers taking an unhealthy interest in your dogs, either when they call door to door or out in public. Do not give details of where the dogs live or any information if asked questions like “Is the dog a BREEDER?”, “Is she/he chipped/neutered” and “Where do you live?”
  • Be careful if you are a registered breeder. Advertising dogs encourages callers to your home who could potentially be checking how many pups there are in the home, the layout of your place etc. Pups are commonly stolen in this sort of situation.
  • Pet dogs are often stolen from homes so normal security is important – lock doors and windows, put on alarms etc.

In short, treat your dog in the same way as you would treat any valuable possession such as an expensive camera, bicycle or even a wallet stuffed with cash. Would you leave one of these unattended and on view in your garden or car? Then why leave your dog?

Recovery of stolen dogs

Campaigners would like to achieve five goals:

  1. They would like vets to scan all new clients’ pets so that stolen dogs can be identified
  2. They would like stolen dogs to be given the urgent and respected attention by the Gardai as stolen property rather than dismissed as just “lost dogs”, which can sometimes be the case
  3. They would like to direct the public to websites that host a what to do “check list” to advise owners of stolen/lost dogs how to run a search campaign for a lost or stolen dog (see below)
  4. Communities should establish Neighbourhood Watch/Community Alert Schemes and explore the possibility of starting a text alert scheme in their areas. The majority of dog thefts involve a vehicle of some description and a good Neighnourhood Watch Scheme can alert people to suspicious vehicles.
  5. Finally people need to appreciate the distress that a stolen dog can have on a family. People who are not animal lovers do not fully appreciate the distress involved.

If it happens to you

What to do if you have lost a dog/ if you think your dog has been stolen?

  1. Phone your local dog warden.
    Dogs wardens are employed by local authorities to help to deal with lost / roaming dogs so there is a good chance that the details of your dog may be on record. An astonishing number of owners of missing dogs never take this initial, important step, so do this before doing anything else. You can find the dog warden in your area by clicking on this link and scrolling down.
  2. Visit one or more of these websites, and follow the instructions:
    1. The comprehensive and recently updated “What to do if you have lost your pet” page on the Dublin  SPCA website. This page includes many other “lost and found” links for Ireland.
    2. The excellent Lor’s Lost Dog Page on Facebook
    3. The useful ISPCA Lost and Found section
    4. The long established “What to do if you lose your dog” page on

Comments are closed.

Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

Privacy | Terms and Conditions