Keeping Your Dog Safe: Millie’s Response to Rising Dog Thefts

As someone who actively tries to not get carried way with the news, its been hard not to click on those news headlines about rising dog thefts.  Particularly when the news is a little closer to home including failed attempts around Dundee.

And I’ll be honest, when my Mum started talking about it at the weekend, I found myself responding with the measures we already have in place to stop anyone impersonating an owner plus our CCTV coverage.  So when a fellow groomer reached out and asked if we’d worked through our risk assessment (thanks Nicola – Because I’m Woof It!), it felt like it was time to revisit with some peers to help!

Our dogs are everything to us and it can be very emotive to even think about this scenario happening.  But the reality is that while we should take care, we do also need to enjoy our time with them and the freedoms that we have.

So before you dive in, please take a deep breathe and don’t panic.  While we are putting in additional measures and I feel it’s our responsibly as a business to do so but the risk that we are addressing is very low. I do not expect to have to use any of these measures but we do also want to make sure that you know we have taken it seriously too.

 

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Keeping Your Dog Safe: Our Risk Assessment

As part of our risk assessment we’ve looked at two key risks. Both are rated as ‘low’ risk pre additional actions being taken to further reduce them:

  • An individual entering the premises impersonating an owner
  • An individual entering the premises (front door) and demanding that we hand over a dog in our care
  • An individual entering our premises (back door) and demanding that we hand over a dog in our care or our own dogs

It is also worth noting that our actions reflect that there is always at least 2 members of the team in while the shop is open and grooming appointments are underway. So even when a staff member needs a comfort break, your furiend is never left on their own or unattended.  Therefore we haven’t had to factor any additional measures in for this.

So let’s dive in….

What are Millie’s Doing in Response to Rising Dog Thefts?

#1  Requests for ID When Collecting Your Dog

A few months ago, we had a dog owner ask if their dog walker could pick up their furiend post their groom.  This is more than ok and we can facilitate this to fit around dog walks, however we have and will always request ID.

While this isn’t common, with more people heading back to work and the hop of restrictions easing, whether it’s your dog walker, family friend or pet taxi, if you are arranging for someone else to collect then our policy is that you let us know either at drop off or pre the appointment.  We’ll take a note of their details on their grooming card for that day and then ask them to provide ID at point of collection.

#2  Change to Our Social Media Post Timings

We love sharing our furiends (and yours) with you on social.  But we also know that certain breeds and ages of dogs are being targeted with police recommending that we personally don’t share locations on our social media posts, particularly when you have a set routine.

So with immediate affect, we no longer post any photos or videos to our social media channels while your furiend is with us. Not only that, but we’ll ensure that there is a time delay after you’ve left to add that little bit extra security too!

 

 

#3  Our CCTV and New CCTV Signage

When we moved premises last year, one of the improvements we made was installing CCTV and now have cameras covering both our shop and our grooming area.  I was more than surprised at the high quality of the video and provides additional peace of mind.

While we do have signage, I’m conscious this doesn’t feel visible enough and therefore we now have larger acrylic CCTV signs on order which will be installed at both our front and rear door.

#4 Removing our ‘Today’s Furiends’ Signs

Many of you will have spotted our chalk boards that have the days’ furiends names on to welcome them to the salon. We also have a second that is in our grooming area to help us manage timings during the day.

While we love this little touch (yes.. dogs can read!) and while we have ID checks in place, we feel it would be safer to no longer have our dogs names on show.

#5  Personal Alarms

As you can see we are all stocked up! Easy access personal alarms are now fitted at diff points across the shop and grooming making it easy for the team to pull a cord to signal an alarm.

However I am also issuing these to each team member to carry on them either when out walking their own dogs or just for personal safety.

I know many of you are considering these – you can find the ones I purchased HERE though at point of writing they are now showing as out of stock. Lots of alternatives available.

 

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#6  Deterrent Sprays

As with the above, we have also purchased self defence sprays which have a red dye and legal to use.   While we know that some of these sprays can be washed off, it’s an additional deterrent to hopefully catch anyone off guard and provide us with a little more time to take action.

#7  Additional Lock on Internal Grooming Door

If you’ve visited our salon, you’ll know that our reception desk has a gate and then we have an additional internal door which leads to our grooming area.

A new lock is being added to the inside of this door, so that any member of team can enter the grooming area with our furiends and lock it behind them.

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#8 Additional Phone Handset

While most of the team carry mobiles, we tend to have our shop phone handset in the shop area.   A new phone has been purchased with additional handset so that we always have a second in the grooming area if we need to make an emergency call.

#9  Strict No Entry Policy when Solo Grooming

There are times when we may have one groomer working alone, either pre or post the shop closing.  While I know it can be frustrating to see someone in the shop when you are after some last minute items, our doors will always be locked and we will be unable to serve or answer the door during these times.

While this is to ensure that a dog is never left unattended or in a position they may hurt themselves, like jumping off a table when unattended, it ensures our team feel safe while solo working too.

#10  Moving All Personal Records Online (plus locked cabinet)

One of those jobs that we’ve been putting off while manging the impact of COVID-19 on our time and resources.  So we’re biting the bullet and will be moving all of our locked records over to a new appointment system.

We are all signed up and this will include the ability for you to book online and text reminders so bare with us as we start to move all the info over later this month ;0)

#11 Additional Security at Back Door

While accessible via our car park, we have a super safe back door already that we added additional internal bolts to when we first moved in.

However, during the summer months, our grooming area can get super hot due to those dryers and as such we have had our back door open at times with the stable door partly open to let air circulate. Ensuring our furiends don’t overheat too.

While this isn’t an immediate concern as entry is blocked by having the door closed (plus new CCTV signage), I am looking at adding a lockable security door so that we can open and allow air to circulate during those hotter months!

 

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Keeping Your Dog Safe: The Future

While we believe that increasing the measures we have in place substantially reduces the already low risk of this happening, particuarly as we are high street based, we will also over the next few weeks be:

  • reaching out to our local community police officer to talk through any additional measures they believe are necessary
  • joining the Pet Industry Federation webinar on minimising the risk of dog theft (and implementing any gaps identified)

We are always open to ideas and suggestions so do feel free to drop into the comments or reach out directly to me vicky@milliespetservices.co.uk.

If you are dog groomer or pet professional – we’d love to compare notes and ideas too!!

For now.. stay safe!

 

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