Who wants to think about pet theft? I sure don’t and frankly in the past I never thought much about it…that is until one day we got an alert via our local newspaper…a home, not too far from ours had been robbed. What was the only thing the robbers took? The family dog. This news story really started me thinking more about this topic more and given that February 14th is National Pet Theft Awareness Day I thought I should do my part to spread some awareness. Pet theft is real and it can happen to any of us.
According to PetFinder at least 5 million pets are reported missing each year. Of that 5 million it is believed that 2 million are stolen and only 10% of those of stolen are recovered. According to the AKC the top five breeds that are stolen are Yorkies, Chihuahaus, Pomeranians, Labs and Frenchies. The AKC also reports that the number of pet thefts has been increasing every year since 2008. Ok, here is the rough part and the big reason why we all need to think about protecting our pets from thieves…the pernicious reasons why these creepy people steal our pets. This is a tough list to stomach but here are the leading reasons pets are stolen;
- to be sold to laboratories for experiments
- to be held until the thief can collect a reward from you
- to be used as bait dogs to train fighters
- to be used as breeders
- to be used as meat to feed exotics (i.e. snakes, etc)
- to be used as meat for human consumption
- to be used as fur
- to be sold in pet stores
- to be used in satanic rituals (black dogs and cats especially)
- to be used in sadistic acts
I know for most of us it is almost to much to process. How can anyone even think of a sweet pet being used in such ways but the reality is that it does happen and it can happen to any of us in an instant.
So what can we do as pet parents to protect our pets?
The absolute Golden Rule for protecting your pet from theft is simply to never leave your pet unattended. Pets are routinely stolen from yards (especially dogs that are tied in the front yard unattended), when unattended in cars or tied up outside a shop where the owner is just running in for a minute or two. I have a six foot fenced back yard and I still won’t leave my pets out unattended.
Other really important things you can do are;
- Microchip your pet – I can’t emphasize this enough. Your odds of recovering your pet are so much higher if your pet is micro-chipped. There are many, many stories of lost micro-chipped pets being returned to their families even years after they had originally went missing. The Microchip is also undeniable proof that the pet is your if there is a dispute. If you want to learn more about micro-chipping talk to your vet or check out Home Again or AVID.
- Spay/neuter your pet. It’s obvious, your pet is less likely to be taken for breeding purposes if it can’t breed. A pet that is spayed/neutered is also less likely to wander.
- Have plenty of pictures of your pet handy and know any special identifying physical marks on your pet (moles, missing teeth, the color of the wick on their claws, etc.). The burden will be on you to prove that a cat or dog is yours if someone has stolen it and is claiming it as their own.
- Be part of a community effort to help recover lost or stolen pets. You can sign up on Home Again to get an email alert anytime a pet is missing in your area.
- Don’t turn a blind eye when something doesn’t look right. If you think a pet theft is in process call the police immediately.
What if the unthinkable happens and our pet is stolen? Well, thankfully there is a lot we can do but it is important to act fast.
- Call the police and your local animal control to report your pet missing (and any shelter/rescue groups in the area). Check with your local animal control/pound daily.
- Call the local vet clinics and animal hospitals in your area and let them know your pet is missing (give them a picture if you can).
- Start with your neighborhood and move out from there canvasing with fliers to let people know your pet is missing.
- Contact your local news outlets and ask them if they do alerts for missing pets (many of them will).
- Get information out about your lost pet via social media – good people will spread the word fast to help find a pet (watch out for scam artists who will claim to have your pet and want a reward).
- Watch for any local ads that are advertising the sale of a pet that matches the description of yours.
There are web resources you can use. You can get a pet amber alert at www.petamberalert.com. They do charge for their service but it is worth contacting their pet detectives to find out about the service (1-877-875-7387). You can also post information about your lost or stolen pet on the following sites Pet Finder, Missing Pet and Findfido. There is also a facebook page; StopPetTheft that you can post to.
I realize this is a dark subject that none of us likes to think about but pet theft is real and it can happen to any of us. The more aware and prepared we are the less the likely we ever face such a terrible situation. I hope you found this helpful.