Pet Theft Awareness

Feb 13, 2021

How can you tell if this dog has been stolen? (hint: you can't!)
Credit Phil Scoville [Flickr]

Estimates are that almost two million pets are stolen every year.    And in the pandemic, there was a significant increase due to the demand for dogs during the lockdown.  It's thought that many are stolen by dog flippers, who hope to make fast money by selling your pet; but unlike flipping a house, dog flipping does not improve the animal.  Your best friend counts on you to keep it safe.  Protect your pet by making sure it does not get stolen.

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Recently a friend of mine was so pleased with his new pet, a small purebred dog that he bought online at a VERY modest price. He drove to a neighboring state to meet the seller at a rest area off the highway. The man seemed unconcerned about whether my friend would take care of “his” pet. In hindsight we suspect the dog might have been stolen, but there is no way now to know where it came from or how to find its real owner – if, in fact, it was stolen.

Dognapping” may sound like a pooch taking a snooze, but it’s something much more sinister. The word is derived from the term “kidnapping” and refers to the crime of taking or stealing a dog from its owner.

There are any number of reasons why someone might steal a dog, and some are downright scary. Before the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 outlawed it, many dogs were sold for medical research. Now they might be sold online, or to pet stores, or to backyard breeders to produce puppies for resale, or used as fighters or bait in illegal dog fighting rings.

The penalty for stealing a dog is, sadly, pretty small. In most states, dognapping is a misdemeanor; the penalty might be little or no jail time and maybe a small fine. The best thing you can do for your best friend is to prevent it from being stolen.

Keep your dog on a leash when you go out. At home, don’t leave it unsupervised, even in a fenced yard. Make sure your pet is neutered or spayed; it will be less likely to roam, and more unattractive to someone who wants it for breeding purposes.

And have your pet microchipped – then make sure to keep your contact information up-to-date with the registry. It is one sure way to prove your ownership of that dog.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day – and it’s also Pet Theft Awareness Day. In the time it took to listen to me today, someone could steal your best friend. Keeping your furry companion safe, at home, with you, is as sweet as any Valentine you might receive, when you’re speaking of pets.

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