14 Ways to Protect Your Pets from Loss or Theft

It is only appropriate that Pet Theft Awareness Day is observed on February 14th, the same day we celebrate all things LOVE.  Launched in 1988 by the Last Chance for Animals organization, Pet Theft Awareness Day is aimed at educating animal owners in keeping their pets safe from thieves. If we are willing to risk opening our hearts to furry companions, we also need to be prepared to keep those pets safe from loss or theft... everyday of the year!

According to Humane Society statistics, over 10 million pets are lost or stolen each year, and only 23% will ever make their way back home!  Pet theft in the United States is a multi-million dollar trade.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, stolen dogs often end up with Class B dealers, who then sell to puppy mills and pet stores. A Class B license is issued to dealers who buy and sell warm-blooded animals that were not born and raised on their property. A large number of stolen dogs are also sold for use as bait and/or fighters in the dog fighting arena.  
Here are 14 simple ways you can help to prevent your pet from loss or theft.

1.  ALWAYS KEEP YOUR PETS TAGGED, including rabies, license and registration tags and, if tattooed/microchipped, a tag with the appropriate registry phone number or website (See #2). Lost pets without tags often don’t get reclaimed, even if tattooed or microchipped, because these methods of identification aren't easily seen. 

2.  REGISTER ALL TATTOOS AND MICROCHIPS with the appropriate registry. Many pet owners do not even realize that an unregistered tattoo or microchip is useless. Include the registry information with your pet's records and with your veterinarian. 

Illustration of white picket fence with dog's name marked through.3.  DO NOT PUT PET'S NAME on his ID tag or visibly display it anywhere outside. (eg., dog house, feeding dish, fence). A pet is much more likely to go to a stranger who calls her by name.

4.  CONFINE PETS. The safest place for them when you’re not at home is indoors. This includes cats!

5.  OUTDOOR EVENTS  can provide great opportunities for spending quality time with pets; however, it is critical to always keep pets on leash and/or provide a safe haven for retreat should activities become overwhelming.

6.  LOCK GATES. If you must leave your dog outside, at least make it difficult for others to get to her. Only leave pets in a fenced yard with padlocks and chains placed high on the gates so the ground can’t be used as leverage for bolt cutters.

7.  DO NOT LEAVE CHAINED PETS IN VIEW, especially in unfenced yards.

8.  NEVER LET YOUR DOG OFF leash if unsupervised! Many municipalities have laws concerning unleashed pets - for everyone's safety, including Fido's.

Large yellow labradoodle leashed to a post on the sidewalk. Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash9.  DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PET TETHERED IN PUBLIC PLACES while you shop. Many stores now allow leashed pets. Ask!  If the answer is "No", visit that shop another day.

10.  TRAIN YOUR PET to walk by your side at all times.

11.  LOCK DOGGY DOORS when you leave home. Keep pets in and creepy crawlies (or just plain creepy) OUT!

12.  DO NOT SHARE WITH STRANGERS the value, bloodlines, training or special abilities of your pet. 

13.  DO KEEP RECENT PHOTOS and written descriptions of your companion.

14.  SPAY AND NEUTER companion animals.  Pets that have been spayed and neutered are not only much less likely to stray, they are also much less desirable to thieves since they can't be bred.

AND, OF COURSE, THE EASIEST and most fun way to ensure your furry friends are safe and secure... spend every moment possible with them by your side!




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