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Criminals can swap a dog’s microchip but they cannot change its DNA

January 21, 2022

UK-based Secured by Design member company, Safehaus, are proud to announce the roll-out of a host of new products and advanced features.

Safehaus dog DNA register

The Safehaus Dog DNA Register, the first of its kind to gain National UK Police Recognition via the official police security initiative Secured by Design, is a database used primarily to help prevent dog theft and to reunite owners with their lost pets.

The widespread issue of dog theft has caused untold misery to animals and owners alike, with the Government launching the Pet Theft Taskforce in May 2021 to tackle the enormous trade of illegal dogs, as well as the passing of a Bill in Parliament in July 2021 seeking to require dog keepers to register a dog’s DNA on a database. 

One of the major issues associated with dog theft is Organised Crime Groups having the knowledge and ability to remove and even replace the microchip from under a dog’s coat, making the animal untraceable before being sold on, or trafficked illegally. Numerous cases have come to light of port authorities not having the resources to act when sick and dying dogs are trafficked illegally across borders (e.g. IE-NI-GB).

This is where the Dog DNA Register from Safehaus comes in. If a dog’s rightful owner is registered on the database as owning their dog and the dog is subsequently stolen, he or she can be identified and returned to the rightful owner by means of a simple oral swab test. UK Police can now take Dog DNA Register details, when recording a crime, following on from the Pet Theft Taskforce Report Sept 21, which states: –

“Actions that the police are taking include:

All forces have been asked to ensure that if a crime involving a dog (or other pet) is committed, the property field on the crime recording system is updated to include the stolen pet, along with as many details known about the animal as possible. This could include microchip numbers, DNA references and photographs.”

Once a dog is registered, there is also an improved range of Safehaus Dog DNA Register branded pet and owner clothing and signage available to highlight its use, deterring would-be thieves and keeping dogs safe. Safehaus is currently the most economically priced Dog Theft DNA Register available.

DNA health checks

Following the successful implementation of the DNA Register, the company realised that their saliva swabs for collecting DNA could also be used to carry out a DNA health check for dogs at the same time. Their expertly staffed laboratory, equipped with the latest testing technology, uses two independent methods to analyse mutations, accurately diagnosing genetic diseases which the animal may carry. Dog DNA Health Checks test for up to 250 traits and diseases on over 350 breeds, with 99% accuracy. This proactive approach to testing gives vets conclusive evidence of underlying conditions without the need for lengthy and unnecessary testing and treatment, saving owners a deal of stress and vet bills.

This month, Safehaus will be announcing the launch of the UK’s first ever Labrador Retriever-specific DNA Health Check, which will, in combination with the Dog Theft DNA Register, cover the health and security of Labradors in one solution, with multiple benefits. The announcement is timed to coincide with ‘National Change A Pet’s Life Day’ on Monday 24th January. DNA health checks for cats are coming later in the year.

Safehaus dashboard

Safehaus are also pleased to announce the arrival of a new custom dashboard for Smartphone and PC, available to all registered clients. The dashboard is designed to keep each users’ dog ID information in one place, including microchip details, DNA certificate number, date of birth, photographs and Kennel Club details, allowing owners to report dog theft faster and record video or photo evidence instantly.

Police and crime prevention

In addition to the products and features available to pet owners across the UK, the Safehaus website also includes a secure UK Police and Crime Prevention log in, designed primarily to allow swabbing kits to be ordered with priority next-day delivery. The secure log in also contains advice and key facts, printouts and downloads, ensuring those involved in investigating pet-related crimes understand the scope of the problem and are able to advise the public and other police staff accordingly.

Alongside the knowledge base, Safehaus can operate with every UK Police Force to swab and fast-track ID all dogs recovered as part of any ongoing Police Investigation at no cost when orders are made via the dedicated Police log in. They also extend regional discounts and offers on related items such as Police-branded dog bandanas and signage, for Police Forces across the UK who want to collaborate and raise awareness.

Roger Percy, CEO of Safehaus, said: “Unregistered microchips enable puppy smugglers and dog thieves to line their pockets. Microchips are completely worthless when it comes to traceability. Criminals can swap a dog’s microchip, but they cannot change its DNA. It’s time we changed the way dog ownership and dog transportation is controlled in the UK and our borders, by making DNA Registration of Dogs a legal requirement for both ownership and movement.” 

Kenny McHugh, Secured by Design National Manager, said: “We are proud to work with Safehaus DNA, who have achieved Police Preferred Specification for their Dog DNA Register and Database. Safehaus and the Dog DNA Register is the first step to stopping the theft of dogs and the misery it brings.”

Throughout the pandemic, an increased number of people chose dog ownership for the companionship and comfort they provide and this rise in demand for puppies increased the price of many breeds, which in turn increased the profit to be had by criminals who were willing to steal and re-sell dogs. With the impending threat of more restrictions and/or lockdowns in 2022, these figures could soon be on the rise again.

You can find out more about Safehaus and the Dog DNA register here:

Further details can be found online at

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