Protecting your family pets at home

With millions of people now working from home or on extended furlough, many families are reviving long-held dreams to have a pet to keep them company at home and on (socially distanced) walks. People living on their own seeking companionship, or others simply reconsidering lifestyle and priorities has resulted in huge demand for pets, in particular dogs.

“There is unprecedented demand,” said Bill Lambert, head of health and welfare at the Kennel Club, which operates the national register of pedigree dogs. In fact, The Kennel Club reported a 168% increase in people searching for puppies for sale on its website from the beginning of lockdown until the end of October, compared to the same period in 2019. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reported a 600 per cent increase in visits to its dog fostering pages, and a rise of 30 per cent in its find a pet section. Owen Sharp, chief executive of Dogs Trust, said the number of people looking for dogs on its site had more than doubled.

All of which is hugely positive for both dogs and their new owners. There are however some negatives, one of which is that the demand has led to a significant increase in stolen pets, with some areas of the UK seeing more than double the number of dogs stolen compared to the same time period last year. As if 2020 couldn't get any worse!  New government figures have revealed that it’s been the worst year for dog thefts on record after some areas across the UK have seen a 250% increase in the crime.

This has triggered security experts to provide tips on how to keep our new family members safe. A new survey by security experts, Safe.co.uk has revealed one in four Brits don’t have any security precautions around the home and only 53% feel safe in their house. The survey further uncovered that 66% of Brits don’t have any motion sensor lighting, 61% don’t have a garden gate lock and 80% don’t have CCTV in place.

With this in mind, we've put together some experts tips to help protect your pets at home. 

Lighting 

Garden lights will add atmosphere and highlight the best things about your private oasis, and they can also act as a deterrent towards pet burglars, well all burglars. Intruders like to operate under cover of darkness, so illuminating the garden when dark is a good way to put them off. And of course, it can also make it safer for you and your visitors to navigate. The most effective option is motion-activated security lights, which can be installed at the front or back of your home. Your local DIY store will sort you out with what you need, there's a huge amount of options and it can be relatively inexpensive, even the solar options are way more effective these days. 

Barriers

Whether choosing a wall or fencing, barriers will protect the garden whilst also keeping your pets secure with no opportunity to escape. Pretty obvious of course, but is it time to invest in more robust fencing and gates? Be careful not to exceed two metres in height though, you'll need planning permission to go higher, it would be very remiss of us not to mention that!

If possible get a garden gate at the same height as the adjoining walls or fences and securely constructed, for your existing gate check the hinges. And dense, thorny shrubs or hedges can be off-putting to intruders so consider planting them on, or around, your home's perimeter too. 

Locks

Locking all gates with padlocks will also ensure a more difficult entrance for burglars, ensure all fittings are secure. Safely store spare keys - no more leaving spare keys under a pot in the garden! A wall-mounted key safe securely protects the keys, especially if it’s in a discreet location. They have a reinforced body that can withstand hammering and sawing. Chosen visitors can access to house keys by using a combination code.

French doors

The majority of forced entry burglaries are committed through the weakest point, and this tends to be at the rear of the property, where passers-by are less likely to see what’s going on. French doors can be particularly vulnerable. 'Patlocks' are easily fitted to the inside of the doors and are released in seconds without the need for keys or a code.

Gravel

Having gravel as a path or driveway could give an early indication of someone approaching the property. Make sure to keep them topped up so that it provides as loud a crunch as possible when walked on.


CCTV

We've also looked a little closer at CCTV, there are some very cool cameras available now. If a burglar spots a camera in the garden, they are definitely less likely to consider breaking in. Especially as they are so much more sophisticated these days, chances are you'll install one that's linked to an app on your phone and you'll be immediately alerted of unwanted visitors. There is also the advantage of the ability to check any previous footage to use as evidence, which could be vital in securing sentences for pet thieves - If the value of a pet is under £500, it is extremely difficult for the court to give a custodial sentence. On this point - there is a national petition asking for pet theft to be a specific crime, and for harsher actions to be taken in the UK. The 'Pet Theft Reform 2020: Revise the sentencing guidelines in the Theft Act 1968 to reclassify pet theft as a specific crime'. Click here to petition the Government

Pet detection - If you’re after a smart camera, the chances are you won’t just be using it as an indoor pet camera – you’ll also be using it for security. And when it comes to protecting your home, the best pet cameras can tell the difference between people and pets. If your camera doesn’t have pet detection you’ll get a notification every time your pet moves which will get pretty annoying. However, if you have pet detection, your camera will ignore your pet and only send notifications if it spots a person. Much smarter.


Night vision - Consider a camera that offers night vision so that you can keep an eye on things any time of day. If you have pets then your family are probably animal lovers. And if you have an outdoor camera with night vision you can watch nocturnal visitors like hedgehogs and foxes make your garden their own at night! It’s a great way of getting the kids into wildlife.

If you’re using an outdoor camera, you’ll be the best judge of where it should go! Most people have it monitoring their garden so they can keep an eye on pets going about their business as well as wildlife (as we mentioned before). But if you have a cat that likes to roam, you can put it above the front door so you can see if it walks up the street. Plus it’s useful having it there so you can see people that come to your door.

John Lewis have a wide range of options - click here

Lastly - Microchip & Tag Your Dog

Thieves may use the excuse that they took the dog thinking it was a stray, so ensuring your dog wears a collar and tag may help to discourage them (and having photographic evidence of this). Also, as is now law in England, having your dog microchipped means that police will be able to identify a stolen dog as yours. In addition to this, it is also the law that when a dog is out in public, it has to wear a collar and tag with the owner’s contact details on.

We hope that helps. We are of course all about your home at Ocean, but there are considerations for protecting your dog away from home too, here's a few useful links - 
Dogs Today Magazine
Direct Line insurance
Animal Friends


Love, enjoy and protect your pets as they will you, here's a couple more dog pics, why not?! 




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