It is only appropriate that Pet Theft Awareness Day is observed on February 14th, the same day we celebrate all things LOVE. If we are willing to risk opening our hearts to four-legged family members, we also need to be prepared to keep those same fur-babies safe from loss or theft. While many lost pets eventually find their way back home with the help of a kind rescuer and a local shelter, many never make it home. Unfortunately, pet theft is actually a multi-million dollar trade in the U.S., with a large number of the dogs sold for use as bait and/or fighters in the dog fighting arena.*
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 (Note #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 the vet.
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 him by name.
4. CONFINE PETS. The safest place for them when you’re not home is indoors. This includes cats, too!
5. LOCK GATES. If you must leave your dog outside, at least make it difficult for others to get to him. 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.
6. DO NOT LEAVE CHAINED PETS IN VIEW, especially in unfenced yards.
7. NEVER LET YOUR DOG OFF OF THE CHAIN or leash if unsupervised! Many municipalities have laws concerning unleashed pets - for everyone's safety, including Fido's.
8. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PET CHAINED UP IN PUBLIC PLACES while you shop. Many stores now allow leashed pets. Ask! If the answer is "No", visit that shop another day.
9. TRAIN YOUR PET to walk by your side at all times.
10. LOCK DOGGY DOORS when you leave home. Keep pets in and creepy crawlies (or just plain creepy) OUT!
12. SPAY or NEUTER all pets. This makes them less inclined to wander, and eliminates any resale value for breeding purposes*.
13. DO NOT SHARE WITH STRANGERS the value, bloodlines, training or special abilities of your pet.
14. DO KEEP RECENT PHOTOS and written descriptions of your companion animals on hand at all times.
* 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. Examples of dealers include commercial dog-breeding facilities, animal brokers, bunchers, and operators of auction sales.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)