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Pet Theft: What Every Pet Owner Should Know

February 01, 2024

February is Pet Theft Awareness Month. Pet theft is a heartbreaking crime that can have devastating consequences for both the stolen animal and their owners. Around two million dogs stolen every year in the U.S. Only one in ten of those pups are returned to their owners. Those are pretty horrifying statistics. Heartless criminals often target purebred or valuable pets in order to sell them for profit. This illegal activity not only causes emotional distress for the pet’s family but also puts the health and safety of the animal at risk. In some cases, stolen pets may end up in abusive situations or be used for breeding purposes without proper care or oversight. A local Bourne, MA veterinarian delves into this topic below.


How Can I Protect My Pet From Thieves?


As a first step, make sure your pet is fixed. Unfortunately, some people steal pets for puppy mills. The law is cracking down on puppy mills in many places, but there are still plenty out there. The other benefit of getting your pet fixed is that intact dogs and cats are much more likely to try and escape to seek out a mate, which also helps keep them safe.


It is also crucial to microchip your pet. Microchips have facilitated the reunions of thousands, if not millions, of lost or stolen pets with their families. Make sure that the information in the chip manufacturer’s registry is up to date. That chip won’t do any good if your contact information is outdated or missing! This is also something you’d want to check on immediately if your pet does go missing. (Tip: Try using the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool  here.)


Tags are also important. Many places require ID tags, and with good reason. These are also the easiest way for someone who finds your pet to contact you. Include the phrase ‘reward’ on the tag for extra incentive. GPS tags/collars are a newer invention, but they’re extremely helpful. While they can be cut off, they could provide enough information to provide a solid lead.


Last but not least, keep your pet secure. If you have a dog, keep Fido leashed on walks. 


Fenced yards are great, but if you have a purebred dog with a low fence against a busy sidewalk, your pooch may still be vulnerable. Consider adding additional security measures, or raising the fence. Thick shrubs can help by creating a barrier people have trouble getting over. Adding a doorbell camera may not stop thieves, but it may help identify them. (This can also help with porch piracy, if that’s an issue in your area.)  As for Fluffy, she’s better off indoors anyway.


Last but not least, we recommend staying alert to what’s happening in your neighborhood. For example, if a strange car is slowly driving by as your dog is in the yard, you may want to err on the side of caution and take Fido inside. Most pet thefts occur when pets are left alone. Never leave your furry friend unsupervised outdoors or in an unattended area. 


For more information, contact your local Bourne, MA veterinary clinic.


How Can People Help Fight Pet Theft?


There are a few things you can do to help fight this problem. You can browse lost and found ads to see if any of them match up. Advocating for stronger laws to protect animals is another way we all can help combat this cruel practice and ensure that every beloved pet is kept safe from harm. We’d also suggest being diligent if you are buying a pet. Always ask for proof of ownership. Spreading awareness can also help.


What Pets Are Stolen Most Frequently? 


Any and all pets are at risk. However, some are more frequently stolen than others. In addition to being quite expensive, French Bulldogs are also small and easy to carry away, so they are often stolen. Some ‘designer’ dogs, such as Labradoodles, are also popular with shady dealers.


The following are the most frequently stolen dog breeds:

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

For more information, contact your Bourne, MA veterinarian.


Stolen Pets: What Should I Do?


While we hope this never happens to any of you, it is unfortunately a very real possibility. However, acting quickly can greatly increase your chances of getting your beloved pet back.


The first thing you’ll want to do is contact the police. If you have any evidence, such as video or a description, provide that to them. You may also need to provide paperwork that proves ownership, such as veterinary or adoption records. 


Next, make a flyer. This is easy to do with many popular computer programs. It doesn’t have to be fancy. The main thing is to include as much information as possible about your pet:


You may want to incorporate the following details:

  • Color
  • Markings
  • Size
  • Sex
  • Age
  • 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

We’d also strongly recommend including a 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 on that.

People may be more inclined to return pets who need medical attention if you mention that your furry friend is very much loved and missed. If your pet has a medical issue, or was rescued, mention that as well.


Post the flyer to all your local social media pages. Submit it to any online lost/missing pet groups in your city, county, state, and area. You can also send it to veterinary clinics, shelters, rescue groups, and dog parks.


If you suspect the person who took your pet, call the police instead of trying to approach them yourself. It’s important to be cautious here. Confronting theives could be dangerous. Plus, it may only make matters worse. They may also move your pet to another location, which would make it even harder to recover them.  


Trying To Find A Stolen Pet


You may also want to do a thorough walking search of your area, in case your pet is still in the vicinity. Call your pet’s name and listen for a response. Check empty properties and wooded lots for your pet, and ask neighbors to keep an eye out.


Monitor local pet sales ads and groups. Thieves sometimes take pets just to quickly resell them. Check local marketplaces, such as those on Facebook and Craigslist. You can also post a classified ad about your missing pet.


Last but not least, start checking local shelters within an hour’s drive. Don’t give up! Some pets have been reunited with their humans after years apart.


In Conclusion: With pet theft on the rise, it’s important for pet owners to take precautions to prevent theft, such as keeping their animals indoors when unsupervised and ensuring they are microchipped with updated information. Ask your Bourne, MA veterinarian for more information. 


Please feel free to contact us, your local Bourne, MA pet hospital, if you have any questions about pet theft or if you need to schedule microchipping or spay/neuter surgery. We are here to help! 


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