Let’s face it: our world can be a scary place sometimes, and it is our job to be very careful and aware of what is happening around us. It is difficult enough to ensure that our family members, our friends, and ourselves are safe; let alone worrying about our beloved pet being stolen! Having your pet stolen is a terrible thought void of all logic and sensibility, but it is a harsh reality that we must stay informed about. While pet theft has always been a risk, the American Kennel Club reports that petnappings continue to be on the rise. The reason for this dramatic increase is unknown, but the numbers make one thing very clear, it is absolutely essential that you learn how to protect your pet:
The first step in protecting your pet is to educate yourself about the dangers and risks of cat and dognappings (and any other animal for that matter). Most animals are snatched from parked cars or while tied up outside stores, and the newest common trend is for animals to be taken from their homes’ backyards! While it might seem difficult or impossible for someone to steal an animal in a matter of minutes or seconds, you’d be surprised how easily and quickly it is done by experienced and determined thieves who have a calculated plan.
The following tips will help ensure your pet remains safe:
1. Schedule your daily and weekly errands with your dog’s safety in mind. Schedule trips to pet-friendly establishments on the same day, and then bring your pooch along for the ride. Leave your dog at home when running other errands. This way, you won’t need to risk leaving your dog unattended outside!
2. Watch your pet very closely at dog parks and in other off-leash areas, because pet thieves watch these areas for easy targets. This also applies to your yard; if your front yard is not fenced, do not leave your pet outside alone for even a few minutes. Confine your dog to the back yard, but even with a fence do not leave your pet outside alone for too long or out of your line of sight!
3. Do not ever leave your cat or dog in your car unattended. It is not safe when the weather is cool, with the windows down, or the windows up and air conditioning running. Basically it isn’t safe in any circumstance! Not only is your pet at risk of a temperature-related emergency, he can harm himself while alone in a car, and he is an easy target for pet thieves.
4. Make sure your dog or cat wears a collar with identification and license tags at all times. The American Dog Trainers Network recommends including the word “REWARD” on the ID tag in capital letters before your address and phone number. It is also advised not to include your pet’s name, as this may give dog thieves additional control over your animal.
5. Microchip your pet as soon as possible to significantly increase the likelihood that you’ll be contacted if he is found. Microchipping is a safe procedure that is an essential part of protecting your animal.
6. Do not offer detailed information about your dog to strangers. Pet thieves may stop you while you are taking your dog for a walk and ask about his breed, cost, and name. Giving them this information may put your dog at greater risk. Do not underestimate the mental capacity of thieves – they will give the appearance of being an innocent stranger, but they are actually gathering facts together to concoct a scheme!
Be careful out there, and just always make sure you are keeping a close eye on your dog if you are anywhere but inside of your home. If, worst case scenario, your pet goes missing and you think it was stolen, contact the authorities, animal control, neighbors, ANYONE that could help in the search. If you are looking to adopt a pet, do NOT purchase one from someone off of Craigslist, newspaper classified ads, at a swap meet, market, on a street corner, etc. – they could be selling you a stolen animal! Regardless of any “official” documents or certificates they show you (which could easily be doctored and falsified) do NOT succumb to this horrible practice! ALWAYS either seek out a local rescue for a pet, visit your local shelter or humane society, or (very last resort) a reputable, CERTIFIED breeder in your area.