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DNA Protected: using nature’s ultimate identification system to prevent dog theft

Following the increase in dog theft during the COVID lockdowns, Gloucestershire Police approached Cellmark Forensic Services looking for a fool-proof method of identifying recovered stolen dogs. They also wanted a new way to help owners reduce the risk of dog theft.



So, forensic DNA testing experts Cellmark developed ‘DNA Protected’, a service that uses the latest DNA profiling technology to identify dogs and combat dog theft.

Unlike microchips which are not always reliable and are even reported to have been taken out by some criminal gangs, a dog’s DNA cannot be removed and remains unchanged for life – it is nature’s ultimate identification system!

Launched in June 2021, dog owners around the country can now chose to have their dog’s DNA profile loaded to a secure Forensic Dog DNA Database. In the event that the dog is stolen and later recovered, police and other investigators can take a simple mouth swab from the dog which can be DNA profiled and compared against the database. This gives the owner the best possible chance of being reunited with their pet.

DNA Protected is also an important crime prevention initiative. Each kit comes with a dog tag and window sticker highlighting to potential thieves that the owner is crime aware and has taken steps to protect their dog. High visibility leads, collars, harness patches and other accessories are available via the website to further highlight that the dog is DNA Protected.

cellmarkdna protected dog dna sampling kit box

Dog DNA Profiling backed by accreditation

When it comes to protecting your four-legged friend from dog thieves, Cellmark’s DNA Protected service comes with quality assurance built in.   DNA Protected is the only dog DNA profiling service accredited by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) to ISO17025, a requirement for forensic science laboratories in the UK.  Also, as an experienced provider of forensic services to the police, Cellmark is accredited by UKAS to the UK Government’s Forensic Science Regulator’s Code of Practice and Conduct.  In addition, DNA Protected is proud to have been awarded Police Preferred Specification status by Secured by Design.

Reassuringly for all DNA Protected database users, all DNA analysis and interpretation is carried out at Cellmark’s own state-of-the-art forensic laboratories here in the UK.  And, with 35 years’ experience of providing forensic services to the police, the government and the military, Cellmark’s data security systems are certified to ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus.  But that’s not all, Cellmark’s extensive range of forensic capabilities means that they can support the police in criminal proceedings with a comprehensive service from database match through to the provision of expert witnesses in court.

Supporting the Police with Crime Prevention Initiatives

Referenced in the Government’s Pet Theft Taskforce Policy Paper, Cellmark is rolling out its dog DNA profiling service to police forces across the country. Working with individual crime prevention units and neighbourhood policing, Cellmark has been helping the police to launch cost effective dog theft prevention initiatives.

Cellmark’s Managing Director, David Hartshorne said “Any dog owner will understand how devastating the theft of their family pet would be, so we are delighted to be able to bring the power of forensic science to help the police combat this terrible crime. Cellmark is highly experienced in investigating crime and bringing criminals to justice, but we are particularly excited about the potential for DNA Protected to help dog owners prevent dog theft in the first place.”

The Company

Established in 1987 as the world's first private DNA fingerprinting laboratory, Cellmark has 35 years’ experience of delivering innovative, high quality forensic science to support the investigation of crime. Cellmark employs over 500 staff working at its two world-class forensic laboratories in Oxfordshire and Lancashire and is contracted to provide a comprehensive multi-disciplinary forensic investigation service to the majority of UK police forces. As one of the largest forensic service providers and DNA testing laboratories in the world, Cellmark has a proven reputation for quality, reliability and service excellence.

Joining DNA Protected and registering your dog on the Forensic Dog DNA Database is an easy way to help prevent theft and, if the worst to happen and your dog were to be lost or stolen, it could help ensure that he or she is safely returned. Your dog’s DNA is safe in DNA Protected’s hands – join the Forensic Dog DNA Database today!

Wonderful service from start to finish. Easy to swab and send, and quick to go on the database. I feel secure that my dog is protected’ Trustpilot Review

You can find out more about Cellmark and DNA Protected here:

Further details about joining DNA Protected can be found online at or by calling Cellmark’s customer services team on 0800 193 3640.

Police Forces, Local Councils or Authorities who would like Cellmark’s assistance and expertise to support local dog theft crime prevention initiatives can contact Cellmark at  where the company will be happy to share their experience.