RSPCA issues urgent warning over criminals ‘impersonating them to steal dogs’

Animal charity RSPCA has issued an urgent warning to dog owners following increasing reports where irresponsible individuals posing as officers in their attempts to gain access to dogs.

In a statement, RSPCA stressed to the public that their officers have no entry to homes, gardens, land or vehicles, unless accompanying police on a court warrant.

RSPCA deputy chief inspector Julie Fadden, said: “Our staff can only access your property if you give them permission and can only see your pets with your approval. If you are at all concerned that someone isn’t who they say they are then you do not need to grant them access.

“We’re concerned that people may have been posing as RSPCA inspectors in order to snatch people’s pets, and that’s extremely worrying.”

Reports of people impersonating RSPCA officers are currently on the rise.

She said there has been a surge in the number of pet thefts during the past year due to the value of many breeds and the demand for pets during lockdown.

“We’d urge people to take extra precautions to protect their pets from thieves by neutering them, ensuring they’re microchipped with up-to-date contact details registered and ensuring they wear a collar with an ID tag or embroidered contact details.

"We’d advise dog owners never to leave their pets tied up outside shops or alone in cars, to ensure their dog has a good recall and doesn’t stray too far when being walked off-lead, and ensure gardens are secure with locked gates.”

The RSPCA is now issuing a warning to people across England and Wales to always check the identity of officers who come to their homes.

Julie added: “We would like to remind and reassure the public that our inspectors and rescue officers all wear branded uniforms and carry ID

“If one of our officers knocks on your door, please ask to see their ID and check their uniform for branding. Our staff wear navy blue uniforms with the RSPCA logo, as well as white shirts with a black or blue tie and black epaulets.

“Most of our officers drive either white vans or fully branded, wrapped RSPCA vans.

She also urged those who fall victim to contact the police immediately.

Dogs Lost, the UK's largest lost and found dog service, has reported an increase of 250 per cent in the past year, compared to the previous period.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.