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Pet Theft Awareness

dog in front of Bürgeramt
quapan [Flickr]
/
Flickr
This dog could be a prime target for a pet thief!

With Valentine’s Day coming up, one of every four pet owners will get a special treat for their furry buddy.  On the darker side, Valentine’s Day is also Pet Theft Awareness Day, perhaps because the sudden loss of a pet that was stolen can break your heart.  One-third of pets become lost or stolen in their lifetime, and most never make it home again.  So what can you do to protect your pet?

     Often, pet theft is a crime of opportunity – someone sees a pet and takes it.  For instance, it may be tied up outside a coffee shop while the owner goes inside for a few minutes.  The pet thief may see the pet and think it is not being cared for because it’s left alone, or may want to sell the pet to make some money.  Either way, make it a rule to never leave your pet alone in public.

     Have your pet microchipped.  Just last week, I told the story of a cat in Scotland that went missing, and found its way home eleven years later due to its microchip.  This week, a cat who went missing in Maine seven years ago turned up in Florida – and its microchip helped humans get it back to its real owner.  A microchip is one way to prove an animal is yours.

     Don’t rely on collar tags or “wearable technology”, those collars that let you track your dog’s GPS coordinates.  Collars, harnesses and tags can be removed quickly, leaving your furry friend with no identification.    

     If your pet is stolen, call the police right away.  Also post “lost” posters, with a good picture of your pet. That’s another suggestion – take some really good photos of your pet from various angles; it will help others to recognize your buddy.

     One last suggestion – spay or neuter your furry friend; it will be less likely to stray, and it will be less attractive to someone who wants it for breeding.

     I understand having your heart stolen by a furry little friend, but take a few precautions  to ensure your four-footed companion doesn’t get stolen, when you’re speaking of pets.

Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.