The Truth About Pet Theft | PetFirst
Pet Care & Health

The Truth About Pet Theft

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
1 month ago

Most people take precautionary measures every day to protect what they value most.  We lock our cars and homes when we leave them. We even outfit our homes with alarm systems, cameras, and doorbells that allow us to see who comes to our homes in our absence.  We secure our children in car seats for safe travel and wear seatbelts when in a vehicle.  

So why should protecting our furry family members be any less important?  Many people don’t realize how widespread pet theft is and threat it can happen anywhere and in any neighboorhood. 

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has been tracking stolen dog reports since 2007 and additionally made a note there is a 31 percent increase in stolen dogs in recent years.

It is estimated nearly 2 million pets are stolen each year, according to Pet FBI, a non-profit organization that helps to recover lost pets.  Only 10 percent of stolen pets ever make it back to their homes.

February 14th is Pet Theft Awareness Day, and no one wants to think about a beloved pet being stolen.  Knowledge and preparation can be your best defense against potential criminals who see your pet as an opportunity to make quick money. Keep reading to learn more.

Why Are Pets Stolen?

The following are some of the most common reasons pets are stolen:

  • Purebred dogs can be easily sold for thousands of dollars.
  • Thieves can make quick money selling pets to puppy mills for breeding.
  • Some pets are sold to research laboratories.
  • Doberman Pinschers and American Pit Bull Terriers might be taken to use as “bait dogs” to train fighting dogs.
  • Some pets are stolen and sold in pet stores.
  • Some thieves steal pets and wait for a monetary reward to be offered so they can return the pet and collect the money.

How to Safeguard your Pet

Microchip your pet

Make sure your dog (and cat) are microchipped and keep all information in the microchip database current.  Not only is this crucial to the safe return of a lost pet, but an up-to-date microchip also provides proof of ownership.

A study published in The Journal of The American Veterinary Medical Association indicated that dogs who were microchipped were returned to their original owners more than 52 percent of the time.  This is in contrast to less than 22 percent of dogs without microchips who return home.

Do not leave your pet tied up in public

Never leave your dog tied up outside a shop, restaurant, or other public location even if you intend to run in for a minute.  A minute is all it takes for a thief to grab your dog.

Play it safe and stick to dog-friendly shops.  If that’s not possible, bring a friend who can wait with your dog while you run inside to do an errand.

Make sure your fence is secure

If your dog spends time in your yard, keep an eye on him.  It only takes a moment for a dognapper to reach over or unlatch a fence.

Even if you are watching your dog whenever he plays in the yard, make sure that your fence is securely locked.  It is just one extra deterrent to a would-be dog thief.

Keep your pet indoors when unattended

Do not leave your dog outdoors when you are not at home.  Even if you have a fenced-in yard, it takes just a minute for a thief to steal your beloved dog.

Never let your dog roam free in the neighborhood: See something; say something

Be aware of strangers in your neighborhood.  If you suspect that someone doesn’t belong there, alert your neighbors and report any suspicious activity to the police.

Keep an up-to-date license and registration on your pet

In addition to microchipping, keep a collar and identification tag on your pet.

Your pet should also have a current registration tag on her collar.

Do not leave a pet alone in the car

Even if you are stopping for a quick errand on a mild day, the short time you leave your dog unattended is enough time for a determined dog thief to smash your car window and snatch your furry friend. 

Keep your dog leashed

Keep your dog leashed whenever you are outside your yard.  If your yard is not fenced in, keep your dog leashed whenever you are outside.

Vary your walks

Varying the times and routes of your walks will lessen the chances of a potential pet thief learning your schedule.  Additionally, it will spice up the walking regimen for you and Fido!

Additionally, always keep in mind the following:

Do not advertise “free to good home”

Do not use “free to good home ads” when looking for a new home for your pet. Do not place your pet in a new home without checking the new guardian’s references, visiting the premises, or having the new guardians sign a pet adoption contract.

Never give pets away for free. Even if you charge a small adoption fee, you’ll be more likely to deter people who have bad intentions for the animal.

Spay and neuter your pets

Spaying and neutering your pets not only helps with the severe pet overpopulation problem, but it also helps keep your pets close to home.

Pets who have been spayed or neutered can be less likely to wander.

What To Do If Your Pet is Stolen

Unfortunately, even the most vigilant of pet parents are not immune to becoming victims of pet theft.  If you suspect that your pet has been stolen, act immediately. The following actions should be taken as soon as possible:

  • Contact your local police and animal control officer
  • Request that they list your dog in the “stolen article” category on the FBI’s National Crime Information Center
  • Post fliers with recent photos of your dog
  • Speak to people in your neighborhood and ask if they have noticed unusual people or activity
  • Share recent pictures of your pet with your local television station and newspaper and ask that they please share the information

Here at PetFirst, we know accidents and illnesses happen to all pets.  PetFirst is here for every canine and cat as pet insurance can help cover unexpected vet visits. 

Pet insurance provides peace of mind that if your pet gets sick or injured, you don’t have to worry about the financial aspect of your pet’s care. Make sure your pet is covered with PetFirst Pet Insurance.  We offer coverage for both dogs and cats and offer Routine Care Coverage to fit every budget.

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