Pet Theft Awareness – A Town N Country, FL Veterinarian Answers FAQs

February is Pet Theft Awareness Month. This may not be the funnest topic we cover here, but it’s definitely an important one. Every year, roughly two million dogs are stolen here in the U.S. That’s a pretty heartbreaking—and staggering—statistic. Unfortunately, only about one in ten of those pups are returned to their humans. A local Town N Country, FL veterinarian offers some insight on this below.

What Pets Are Stolen The Most?

Unfortunately, any pet is at risk here. While certain types of dogs and cats are at higher risk than others, thieves may find opportunity in any animal. Sadly, some pets are taken to be used as bait to train fighting dogs. Others may be sold to laboratories. However, the vast majority of pets that are stolen are taken by ‘flippers’ who want to resell the animal for a profit. This is an attractive option for thieves, as they don’t need to put a whole lot of effort into it.

The dogs that are most often stolen are purebreds. French Bulldogs are a top choice, because they are not only quite expensive, they’re also small enough to easily be carried off. Some of the ‘designer’ dogs, such as Labradoodles, are also attractive to shady dealers.  

Here are a list of dog breeds that are stolen the most:

  • Pit Bull
  • German Shepherd
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Labradoodle  
  • Chihuahua   
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • French Bulldog   
  • Boston Terrier   
  • Maltese   
  • Pomeranian   
  • Yorkshire Terrier

Ask your Town N Country, FL veterinarians for more information. 

What Do I Do If My Pet Is Stolen?

Having a beloved pet stolen can be terrifying and traumatic. We hope this never happens to any of you! That said, it is unfortunately a very real possibility. However, acting immediately can greatly increase the chances of you getting your beloved buddy back.

The first thing you’ll want to do is contact law enforcement. If you have any evidence, such as video or a description, provide that right away.

Next, create a flier. You’ll want to include as much relevant information about your pet as possible:

Here are some details to add:

  • Size
  • Sex
  • Color
  • Markings
  • Breed (Note: Keep in mind that if your pooch isn’t a commonly-known breed, people may not make the connection by name alone.)
  • Photos are also very important. Choose ones from different angles, if possible
  • When and where your pet was last seen
  • Reward. This is extremely important, as the promise of money can go a long way towards motivating people to return the pet. You can also offer a reward for information, though you’ll of course want to follow the advice of your local police department 

It’s also not a bad idea to tug people’s heartstrings a bit. Say something about how your furry friend is very much loved and missed. If they have a medical issue, or were rescued, mention it! People may also be more inclined to return pets that need medical attention.

Once the flyer is up, send it everywhere. Post it on all of your local social media pages, and find lost/missing pet groups and pages for your city, county, state, and area to share it in. You can also send it to veterinary clinics, shelters, rescue groups, and dog parks.

It’s important to be cautious here. If you think you know who stole your pet, contact the police instead of trying to approach them yourself. That could go wrong in all sorts of ways, some of which can be very dangerous. Plus, it increases the chances of your pet being taken elsewhere—and out of reach—right away, which could actually reduce your chances of recovering them.

Searching For A Stolen Pet

Making that flyer and contacting authorities are crucial first steps. You’ll also want to start a search. Do a thorough walking search of your area. Call your pet’s name, in case they answer. Check places like empty properties and wooded lots, in case they’ve gotten away.

Next, start closely monitoring ads for pet sales. Thieves sometimes take pets just to quickly resell them for a quick buck. Watch local marketplaces, such as ones on Facebook and Craigslist. It’s also not a bad idea for you to post a classified ad about your missing pet.

Finally, start checking local shelters. Search those within an hour’s drive.

Don’t give up! Many pets have been reunited with their humans, sometimes after years apart.

How Can I Keep My Pet Safe From Thieves?

As mentioned above, any pet is vulnerable to being lost or stolen. While unfortunately there are no ways to guarantee that this won’t happen, there are definitely things you can do to reduce the chances.

Spaying/Neutering: First and foremost, make sure that your pet has been fixed. Sadly, some people steal pets for puppy mills. While the law is cracking down on puppy mills in many places, there are still plenty of them out there. Getting your pet fixed also helps in another way: intact dogs and cats are much more likely to try and run off to go looking for love.

Microchipping: Having your pet microchipped is also essential. Microchips have facilitated the reunions of thousands—likely millions—of lost or stolen pets and their worried humans, sometimes years after the pet went missing. Remember to keep your information up to date in the chip manufacturer’s registry. That chip won’t do any good if your contact information is missing or outdated. You can try using the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool here to check your records.

ID Tags: ID tags are also essential, and required by law in many places. These are the easiest way for someone who has found your pet to be able to contact you. Include the term ‘reward’ on the chip as well.

GPS Tags/Collars: GPS tags are a newer invention, and they are definitely a great thing to have. While these can be cut off, they may sometimes offer enough information to provide a solid lead.

Security: Last but certainly not least, keep your pet safely contained. 

Kitties are safest indoors: this will not only help keep Fluffy safe from thieves, but will also protect her against other hazards, such as cars and weather. 

If you have a dog, keep Fido leashed on walks. Fenced yards are great, but if you have a purebred dog and a low fence against a busy sidewalk, your pooch could be vulnerable. Consider adding extra security measures. A doorbell camera may not stop thieves, but may help identify them. Thick shrubs can help by making a barrier that is hard for people to get over. 

It’s worth noting that pet theft is a potential downside of invisible fences: there is no barrier to the thief, who can then quickly remove a pet’s collar.

Be Vigilant: Finally, we would advise just paying attention to what is going on in your area. For example, if you notice a car slowly driving by as your dog is out in the yard, take Fido inside and be extra cautious. 

Ask your Town N Country, FL veterinary clinic for more information. 

How Are Most Pets Stolen?

There are heartbreaking videos of cases where people snatched pets out of yards or even out of their owners’ arms. However, the majority of pet thefts happen when the pet has been left alone. Never leave your furry friend unsupervised outdoors or in an unsecured area.

How Can I Help Fight Pet Theft?

There are a few things you can do as a Good Samaritan. If you have the time, you can browse lost and found ads to see if any of them match. Spreading awareness also helps. If you are looking for a new pet, be cautious about who you interact with. Always ask for proof of ownership.

Conclusion: Sadly, millions of pets are stolen each year. There are things you can do to protect your pet from theft, such as making sure they are fixed, microchipped, and wearing proper ID tags.

Do you have questions about pet theft? Do you need to schedule microchipping or spay/neuter surgery? Contact us, your local Town N Country, FL pet hospital, today!

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