2020/21 THE RISE IN DOG THEFTS
In 2020 dog thefts rose by significantly as thieves realised that dog values had increased dramatically during the same time, follow a huge rise in the demand for dogs and puppies across the country.
Nigel King, the Founder of the campaign, gave his own story in Dec 2020
“While on a painstaking search for a lost spaniel, after three tough days the realisation came that this lovely 18 month old spaniel, Nora, had probably been stolen, and stolen to order. Too many thing collided for us to not see the obvious. A painstaking and professional search produced not a single trace, plus the report of an attempted theft nearby a few minutes earlier left us in more doubt. It took almost a week to come conclusion she had been stolen for what was no doubt a considerable financial gain in puppy breeding.
During the time I spent days in a motorhome at the search site organising the operation. In the quiet times I was thinking “what more can be done”?
I quickly learned a lot about the many online groups that existed for lost and stolen dogs. Nothing more could be done to improve on the incredible skill and tenacity of those groups. So I turned my attention to the time when dogs are knowingly stolen and a thief is still in view.
That is when it dawned on me, that whilst everyone was saying that after a dog theft you need to quickly ring the police and get onto the lost/stolen dog websites, that might just be completely the WRONG thing to do.
I thought “what about dog teamwork, whose consensus is “I’ll look after your dog‘s safety if you look after mine”.
I thought “what if I can change the behaviour of people close by just a little so that at the moment of a theft, in those precious seconds, rather than onlookers going on to their phones, or worse still walking away, what if a campaign could be started to quickly activate onlookers into a concerted, but safe, action against the thieves.”
And what came out of the available options was sound. Sound cascaded by others and possibly even translated onto a car horn that could follow thieves. Sound travels faster than any thief and its known that a thief will give up his prize if he knows the game is up.
I talked to people about this and the response was mostly “ what a great idea, I never thought of that.” It started dog owners thinking that now had an opportunity to take control and do something worthwhile.
Of course the concept needed a lot of developing and testing, so I plagued other local dog owners to come out in November in the wind and cold and do some experiments. The results were promising and the DogHorn strategy started to emerge.
It developed to more than training dog walkers to unite and act as a team; it soon became clear that a dog walking area, akin to an active neighbourhood watch area, could become a highly sensitive and proactive “DogHorn” area where thieves would soon spot the dangers of entering it and hopefully keep away. The highly visible yellow “Lanyard” soon became the central of focus of the campaign and from there I designed the PAWS code, popped it on Lanyard ID Holders and the whole campaign was borne.
Thereafter “my story” became “our story” as people pulled together to help with all sorts of aid. Graphics, marketing, pack constructions, the whole supply chain thing. We now have some great logos and designs, and support coming in from all corners of the county. We know, for sure, that this will spread across the UK if the current enthusiasm for it is anything to go by.
With the help of many local folk this non-profit has taken just two months to build a whole campaign including a rapidly growing Facebook community with its own page (@doghorngroup), a local group (@DoghornVolunteersGroup), a website (www.doghorn.uk) an online shop, an online distribution system, and “real” outlets selling packs to the public through places like vets and local businesses.
Of course the campaign wouldn’t have helped Nora, especially as it took us a week to work out that she had been stolen. But the question is “would she have been stolen in the first place if this campaign was active?“
I like to think not as potential dog thieves would be wary of entering a highly active “DogHorn” zone with a number of local strategies to stop, follow and hinder them.
As of the end of January 2021, the campaign has started to show some real results with the Yellow Lanyard campaign extending right across UK.
We get the occasional “what happens to the money question. So let me answer that one.
What comes in goes to decrease a huge deficit in of costs that accounts for:
- Campaign donations to organisations, commercial outlets and dog owners
- Stock Purchasing Costs
- Advertising and Google Payments
- Paypal costs
- Website Design Costs / SSL/ongoing support
- Packaging Costs
- Commercial Printer / Printing Costs
- Postage (Postage charged doesn’t cover actual costs other than for lanyard packs)
- and much more
There has been no sponsorship towards the campaign because it is so new and the focus has been on getting the Yellow Lanyard Campaign working. No Just Giving income, no Crowd funding income, no charity awards, nothing. It has solely relied on the personal funding of the founder and his 24/7 commitment to the cause along with a number of volunteers who have given great amounts of time to the campaign. It has a long way to go before its breaks even.
We thank everyone who has given either time, advice or money and sometimes given so generously.
And to everyone that has purchased a DogHorn lanyard, alarm, spray, Hi Viz, we say thank you. A small proportion of what you have given will go towards sustaining this campaign for some time yet.
The campaign organisers live on the Northumberland Coastline and regularly walk at Druridge Bay. Following an increase in dog thefts they have committed to running this campaign and getting 50,000 dog responders active in UK by 2021.
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