If you are concerned for your pet's safety, do not put its name on the collar or ID tag. An animal may be more receptive and willing to go with a stranger that knows its name. And remember - unattended means unsafe when it comes to your best friend.
It is estimated that every year in this country, two million pets are stolen, and the problem is growing according to the American Kennel Club which has tracked stolen dog reports for the past ten years. Almost any place a pet can be left unattended, it is at risk for being snatched.
Sometimes it’s a neighbor who doesn’t want a pet around, or even an angry spouse or companion, but the greatest danger is from those who stand to make a profit from a stolen pet. An animal might sometimes be held for ransom, in hopes the owner will be willing to pay to get their furry buddy back. Purebred animals may be sold to unwitting buyers, to pet stores, to puppy mills; and any pet might be used as bait in dog-fighting rings.
What can you do to protect your pet and keep it safely at home with you? Don’t leave your pet outside unattended for long periods of time, even in a fenced yard. Some experts recommend a lock on the gate to prevent anyone from opening it without your knowledge. If you take your dog for a walk on a leash, don’t tether it to a lamp post or fence while you run into a store for a minute. And consider not letting your cat have the run of the neighborhood.
If you haven’t done so already, have your pet spayed or neutered. It will be less attractive to a thief when it can’t be used for breeding. And have your pet microchipped; collars and ID tags can be removed, but a microchip can be used identify the pet and its legitimate owner.
If you think your pet has been stolen, file a police report right away; then post flyers, tell your neighbors, use social media to spread the word; and check the want ads – more than one owner of a stolen pet has found it being offered for sale there.
This Valentine’s Day, remember that it is also Pet Theft Awareness Day and show a little extra love to your best friend by keeping it safe, at home, with you, when you’re speaking of pets.