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Protect Your Pet – Prevent Pet Theft

Each year, an undetermined number of dogs go missing, never to be seen again. They haven’t run away from home, been abused by their owners, gotten lost on the city streets, or ended up unidentified, in a shelter somewhere. In reality, parents of pooches need to be aware of some of the same concerns that parents of human children worry about on a regular basis. Abduction of dogs is a crime that is unfortunately too common, especially if your dog is a purebred or of a certain breed that owners might find desirable.  

Image Source: (c)iStockphoto/Damedeeso

Like abduction of babies, the crime can often happen in broad daylight, simply because it’s difficult for a passerby to determine that someone has taken a dog that belongs to someone else. Particularly in a large city, where there are millions of dogs, and the pet-sitting and dog-walking industry is a booming business, if a dog seems reasonably well-behaved and is being treated properly, it’s unlikely that anyone will even take notice. If a dog begins to bark, behave aggressively, or runs when someone who isn’t his owner attempts to take him from his home or a public place, the dog thief will typically disappear quickly, in search of a more cooperative target.
Dog theft can happen anywhere, and can be perpetrated in a variety of ways. Those who are after dogs such as pit bulls and Rottweillers, typically in an attempt to teach the dogs to fight or serve as aggressive guard animals, will pull up in a truck in the middle of the night, open the gate, and lure the animal out with steak or other goodies. Those who can’t resist an adorable, friendly dog, chained up while the owner runs into Starbucks or to pick up the dry cleaning, may simply walk off with the dog or carry him. Once the thief has smuggled the dog out of the area, it can be difficult to find him. The thief will typically remove signs of identification, including microchips and GPS collars, and replace them with others. The dog will be trained to respond to a new name, taken to a new veterinarian, and perhaps microchipped with brand-new information. If it is difficult to find young people who go missing, it is even more difficult to track down a stolen dog, and to prove that the animal in question is, in fact, the one you’ve lost.
While some thefts occur because the thief is seeking out a particular breed of animal without wanting to pay the hefty price tag that comes along with it, like stealing an expensive handbag or piece of jewelry, others occur for more malicious reasons. Some end up in laboratories, dog fighting rings, or puppy mills. Sadly, there are people who wish to do animals harm rather than good, and though there are agencies that help prevent these sorts of crimes of opportunity, an estimated two million pets are abducted each year.
One of the best ways to prevent your dog from becoming a victim of this malicious type of crime is to never, ever leave him unattended. It may be tempting to take him for a walk, where you can leave him tied to a fire hydrant or chair in front of the store when you need to run errands, but it takes less than 45 seconds for your dog to become a victim of theft. It is also advisable, if your dog spends any time at all indoors, to have him sleep inside with the family.
If you live in a rural area with more than one “outside” dog, make sure the outside of your property is protected just as well as the inside, including fences, gates, and an alarm system. The point is not only that your furry friend can’t get out, but that nobody can lure him out or remove him by force. Since many people keep large dogs as a form of protection, removing the dogs then makes it easier for someone to gain access to your home and do harm to those inside, so protecting your dogs from becoming victims of crime ultimately protects the humans in the household, as well.
Although a savvy dog snatcher will remove the evidence, it’s still important to make sure your pet wears a collar, ID tags, and microchip at all times. Many times, a pet thief may not be aware your dog is microchipped, and taking him to a veterinarian may show the crime for what it is, and reunite you with your missing furry friend.
Whatever happens, it’s important to keep searching, and never give up hope. Networks like those PetHub builds help to unite pet owners and lovers throughout the country, and putting up a pet profile that someone in a neighboring area sees may just be the tip that helps you locate your stolen pooch.