It's an unfortunate fact that thousands of much-loved pets are stolen every year. Whether it's for nefarious purposes, or the pet is stolen and re-homed, it's obviously a stressful situation for the pet and a heartbreaking one for their families. Here are some things you can do to help prevent your pet from being stolen.
It can take just a few seconds for someone to steal a pet, especially friendly ones that are happy to run up and greet anyone. Most of us with yards have let our pets out alone for a bathroom break and we may not watch them every moment. However, leaving pets outside alone, especially for long periods of time, is a risk. Keep a watchful eye on them from a window. Your fence height should be tall enough that someone wouldn't be able to reach over the top and grab your dog. If possible, make sure pets in the yard wouldn't be visible to someone walking by on the street. Keep your dogs inside if you're not home.
Breaking into a car doesn't take much and dogs inside can easily be stolen. Stolen pets can be moved long distances in just a few minutes if transferred to another vehicle. Leave pets at home if you're heading out to run errands. They'll be more comfortable and safer there.
It can be tempting to tie the pooch up outside while we quickly run into a store to grab a coffee or a few things. Most dogs who are tied up outside on their own are likely to be the friendly type - the type who wouldn't hesitate to walk off with a stranger. People outside the store probably wouldn't know that the dog doesn't belong to the stranger and wouldn't try to intervene.
Walking with someone is the safest, as it allows one of you to run into the store while the other watches the dog. If that's not possible, a locking leash like the PAWZ Safespot Locking Dog Leash is one option - it's not fool-proof since someone could still cut through the leash, but at least it's a deterrent.
Opportunistic thieves are more likely to take advantage of yards that are easier to break into. A lock on the inside of the gate makes it more difficult for them to access.
You can also add a bell to the gate to alert you if the gate opens. Place the bell in such a position that it's not easily noticeable.
Note any suspicious activity around your neighbourhood. This can include seemingly-friendly people who take a great interest in your dog and ask an unusual number of questions, or questions out-of-the-ordinary. Sometimes thieves seek to steal purebred dogs, or "high-value" or unusual breeds. Don't brag about how much your dog is worth.
That isn't to say that mixed-breed dogs aren't also at risk; some thieves will steal dogs with the intent of getting reward money.
It's okay to be wary if someone, or a situation, just seems "off". Not everything is always as it seems. For example, there was a much-publicized case a while back about a woman who tried to steal a dog by posing as an animal control officer.
Dog parks are often full of activity, commotion, and yes, distractions too. Many dog owners spend their time chatting with others or using their phones. The dog park is an easy place for someone to grab a dog and quickly leave before the owner notices. Keep a watchful eye on your dog at all times.
There are lots of great reasons to spay or neuter your pet. Doing so will also make your pet less attractive to people hoping to steal pets to use for breeding purposes.
It may seem like a small thing, but it's important for pets to have multiple forms of identification. Ideally, your pet would have:
Some pet owners will also have their pet tattooed when the pet is undergoing another procedure, such as spay/neuter surgery. A tattoo would be a permanent and visible form of ID. It should be noted that tattoos will fade over time and may become unreadable.
Multiple forms of ID make it easier for your pet to be positively identified in case one form of ID becomes unreadable or unavailable. For example, if your pet's collar comes off or is removed, a microchip or tattoo would still let others know that the pet is yours.
Be sure to keep your contact information up-to-date for all forms of ID.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, pets will still go missing. Here are some things you can do to help bring a missing pet home. Keeping good records of your pet's important details can be helpful in positively identifying your pet and bringing him back home. Make sure you record:
Should you locate a pet that looks that yours, this type of documentation can be very useful to definitively identify you as the owner of that pet.
Don't keep pet thieves in business either. If you intend to adopt a pet from a classified ad or otherwise from an unfamiliar individual (for example, someone selling dogs in a parking lot), do your research - insist on vet records and a microchip scan to start, and ask lots of questions. Better yet, adopt from a reputable animal shelter or pet rescue organization.