The RSPCA has issued a warning to dog owners after a spate of incidents where thieves have attempted to steal dogs while claiming to work for the animal charity.

Dog thieves are using fake RSPCA stickers to target unsuspecting dog owners, claiming their four-legged friend matches the description of a stolen dog.

The RSPCA has shared guidance for dog owners after becoming “concerned” over a number of similar incidents and are calling on people to remain vigilant when approached.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “We’re concerned by a small number of incidents where people are impersonating RSPCA staff as well as some fraud callers who are mirroring our emergency number (0300 1234 999) to make outgoing calls claiming to be calling from the RSPCA.

“While this number should be dialled by the public who are reporting animal cruelty, outgoing calls from the RSPCA will never display as this number.

“If you receive a call from this number purporting to be the charity, we would urge you not to divulge any personal details, hang up and report the incident to police.

The charity has also highlighted the warning signs to look out for if you are approached by anyone claiming to be from the RSPCA.

They said: “If an individual claiming to be from the RSPCA knocks on your door, always look for the badge and ask to see official identification.

“All our frontline staff wear branded clothes and carry ID. If you’re concerned someone may not be who they say they are please call 0300 1234 999 (using option 1 which says ‘responding to a card left by the RSPCA') to verify their credentials.

They added: “If you believe someone is suspicious then do not grant them access to your property or your animals and report the incident to police on 101. We are working with police to investigate these incidents.”

How to keep your dog safe

The animal charity has also shared a number of tips to keep your dog safe after a rise in thieves attempting to steal dogs during lockdown.

  • Don't leave your dog outside a shop on his own or in a car alone.
  • Teach your dog a reliable recall for when you are out walking.
  • Check your garden to make sure it is secure and if you have a gate then fit with a lock.
  • Neuter your pet as this can reduce the likelihood of roaming.
  • Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with an ID tag and that it is up to date. It is a legal requirement for a dog to have an ID tag with your name and address on it. The RSPCA also recommends including your mobile phone number on any ID tag as this can help reunite you with your pet quickly should he ever get lost or stolen. 
  • Microchip your pet and keep the details up to date so that if your pet does go missing or is stolen then there is a higher chance they can be reunited. It is a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped in England and Wales.
  • If you believe your dog has been stolen please report it to the police as soon as possible.