We all know that February 14th is Valentine’s Day, but did you know it is also Pet Theft Awareness Day? It is estimated that 2 million pets are stolen each year. This unthinkable tragedy is also a call to awareness for loving pet owners.
Depending on breed, pets can be stolen for fighting, used for breeding, or for their high price tags. In many other cases, they are simply taken home as pets or given as gifts.
Many of these pets never find their rightful homes. Although you may think it’s unlikely as you supervise your pet, there are still many situations that may put a pet at risk. Pet theft can happen anywhere and at any time, and all it takes is a few seconds.
At Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital, we can’t even imagine this happening to our pets, so we want to offer you some tips for how to keep your pets safe, here.
Tips for Avoiding a Stolen Pet
Microchip your pet – if your pet is found or sold to a business, there’s a good chance she’ll be scanned for a chip. A microchip is also your pet’s best chance of being reunited with you if lost.
Spay or neuter your pet – intact animals are more likely to want to roam, driven by their hormones. Among other things, spaying and neutering your pet is a very good way to prevent wandering and the increased risk of theft that results.
Don’t leave your pet alone – it may seem safe to leave your pet in the backyard while you’re away. After all, it’s fenced and secure, and your pet can relax and play outside. But this is a red flag when it comes to pet theft. Avoiding a stolen pet means opting for a pet sitter or dog walker while you’re away.
Don’t leave your dog tied up in front of a store – it may seem like a no-brainer, but this happens a lot. It seems harmless to leave our well behaved dog tied up for a few minutes while we pop into a cafe or store. But, it’s also one of the easiest ways for someone to steal your pet.
Don’t leave your pet alone in the car – you may have heard the stories, and they’re true. Every year, many pets die in parked cars from hyperthermia (heat stroke). Even on mild days this can be a risk as cars heat up faster than we think – to deadly temps. And, thieves have been known to pick locks and even break windows to grab a cherished pet.
Be careful about discussing the rarity or cost of your pet – of course it’s natural pet parent pride to talk about your pet and connect with other pet owners, especially on social media. Just keep in mind that this might make your pet a target.
Be aware of breeds that are likely to be stolen – breeds such as Rottweilers and Pit Bulls are more likely to be stolen as bait dogs for fighting. Other breeds, such as Staffordshire Terriers and French Bulldogs are stolen for their high resale value.
Keep a close watch in public dog areas – it’s easy to relax when we’re at the beach or at the dog park with our dogs. After all, there are lots of other dog owners around to all keep watch. But in all the common confusion of comings and goings, it’s easy to lose track and end up with a stolen pet.
Lock gates and consider security – it may be a smart idea to consider locks for your gates and possibly a security camera. Investing in these tools can make your yard less inviting to thieves.
Organize your pet’s information – keep current records of your pet’s health, including a recent photograph with their identifying characteristics. If they are stolen or go missing, involve the police and share your pet’s information on social media lost pet sites. There’s a chance a good samaritan will see your pet and help you reunite with them.
While it’s a scary thought, the best way for avoiding a stolen pet is prevention. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or need support for a lost pet.