The RSPCA is issuing a warning to dog owners a man posed as a charity worker in an attempt to gain access to a puppy, in a “concerning incident” which took place in London on Wednesday 13 January.

A man knocked on a resident’s door in the New Southgate area of north London at lunchtime, claiming to be from the RSPCA and to have received a complaint about a dog barking. He then asked to see the resident’s Golden Retriever puppy.

RSPCA Chief Inspector Clare Dew says, “Thankfully the dog owner was immediately suspicious of the man, who was wearing no uniform. They secured the door with the security chain and refused to allow the man access to the puppy. 

“The man left the address and the puppy’s owner contacted us. I checked to see if we had any officers in the area at the time and we didn’t.”

Image by JackieLou DL on Pixabay

The police was also alerted, and the RSPCA is issuing a warning to pet owners across the country to always check the identity of people identifying themselves as RSPCA officers before allowing them access to their properties.

Clare 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 black ties and black epaulets.

“Most of our officers drive either white vans or fully branded, wrapped RSPCA vans. All staff vehicles in London feature large branding imagery so are also easy to spot.”

Our staff can only access your property if you give them permission and can only see your pets with your approval

RSPCA officers have no powers of entry to homes, gardens, land or vehicles, unless accompanying police on a court warrant.

“Our staff can only access your property if you give them permission and can only see your pets with your approval,” Clare adds. “If you are at all concerned that someone isn’t who they say they are then you do not need to grant them access and you can call our hotline on 0300 1234 999 to check their credentials.

“We’re concerned that this man may have been posing as an RSPCA inspector in order to snatch this puppy, and that’s extremely worrying. We understand that there have 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.”

RSPCA officer
Image by RSPCA

She adds, “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.

“If you are concerned someone may have posed as an RSPCA officer or another agency worker please report the incident to us and to the local police. And if you believe your pet has been stolen please contact the police as soon as possible.”

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