In 1988, Last Chance for Animals launched the first Pet Theft Awareness Day on Valentine’s Day. The holiday has been celebrated every Feb. 14 since in an effort to raise awareness and educate owners on how to protect their pets.
Statistics vary on the number of pets stolen each year, although some estimates are as high as two million. Various animal welfare and nonprofit organizations emphasize prevention is key, and offer a few tips to keep pets safe. Safety measures include keeping pets indoors when not at home, ensuring pets aren’t visible from the street, and never leaving a pet alone in a car, outside a store, or unattended at any time. Also, microchip information and identification tags should be kept up-to-date, and owners should have a current photo of their pet on-hand.
When purchasing a pet, ask for information to confirm ownership, such as registration, adoption or veterinary records. Be wary of strangers attempting to sell a pet on the street or in any other public location where animals typically aren’t sold. Accepting a pet from an unknown source can put the buyer at risk of being in possession of stolen property.
If a pet is missing and suspected stolen, it should be reported to local law enforcement immediately.