For some people, it means the dog was stolen – something that has occurred at least 224 times so far this year, according to statistics compiled by the AKC Companion Animal Recovery National Pet Theft Database. Last year, some 150 dogs were reported stolen during the same 7-month period.
“We are getting reports almost daily of pets stolen during home invasions, out of parked cars while people are running errands and even snatched from dog lovers out for a walk in the park,” says Lisa Peterson, spokesperson for the AKC.
The pets are targeted for various reasons, Peterson says. Some are stolen for resale on the Internet, in newspaper ads or at flea markets. Others are stolen and held for ransom, while others are snatched simply because someone wants a dog for themselves or to give as a gift.
“We’ve even seen a new trend of dogs being stolen from shelters and adoption events for the first time this year,” Peterson says.
In response to this growing trend, AKC and AKC Companion Animal Recovery have come up with tips to keep your dog safe:
In the Neighborhood
- Don’t let your dog off-leash. Keeping your dog close to you reduces the likelihood it will wander off and catch the attention of thieves.
- Don’t leave your dog unattended in your yard. Dogs left outdoors for long periods of time are targets, especially if your fenced-in yard is visible from the street.
- Be cautious with information. If strangers approach you to admire your dog during walks, don’t answer questions about how much the dog cost or give details about where you live.
On the Road
- Never leave your dog in an unattended car, even if it’s locked. Besides the obvious health risks this poses to the dog, it’s also an invitation for thieves, even if you are gone for only a moment.
- Don’t tie your dog outside a store. This popular practice among city-dwelling dog owners can be a recipe for disaster. If you need to go shopping, patronize only dog-friendly retailers or leave the dog at home.
- Protect your dog with microchip identification. Collars and tags can be removed so make sure you have permanent ID with a microchip. Thieves will not know the dog has a microchip until a veterinarian or shelter worker scans it so keep contact information current with your microchip recovery service provider.
- If you suspect your dog has been stolen: Immediately call the police/animal control officer in the area your pet was last seen and file a police report. If your dog has a microchip, ask to have that unique serial number, along with the dog’s description, posted in the “stolen article” category on the National Crime Information Center.
- Canvass the neighborhood – Talk to people in the immediate vicinity where your pet went missing for possible sightings of the actual theft.
- Have fliers with a recent photo ready to go if your dog goes missing. Keep several current photos (profile and headshot) of your dog in your wallet or on an easily accessible web account so that you can distribute immediately if your pet goes missing.
- Contact the media – Call the local TV station, radio station and newspaper and ask to have a web post put out about your missing pet.
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