What You Need to Know About Pet Theft

Having a pet brings a great deal of joy—since they are providers of unconditional love—but it is also a great responsibility. As a pet owner, you have to take care of them and protect them in all situations. Unfortunately, not all people are kind-hearted, and some are likely to steal your lovely four-legged friend. Known as pet theft, this phenomenon seems to be on the rise worldwide, targeting especially purebred cats and dogs, since they can fetch a thief thousands of dollars.

However, there are many things you can do to protect your pet and make sure they won’t be subject to such a crime.

Why Pet Theft Is Happening

brown, white and black dog walking

First of all, what can classify as stealing a pet? Besides actually depriving an owner of their pet, there are other actions which can be considered pet theft. Finding a lost pet and not contacting the owner or keeping the pet after not being able to get in touch with the owner are seen as theft as well, although of a lower degree.

Selling purebred pets on the black market—or posing as a legitimate source, along with falsified documents—can lead to a large profit almost immediately. Expensive purebred dogs can be sent to puppy mills where they are used for breeding. There are even more cruel reasons, such as sending the pets to institutions that use them for experimentation, or to be used as training for other fighting dogs. Some people might wait for a reward to be posted and come and cash in easy money.

All these are reasons that thieves have, but pet theft is also happening because some pet owners are not careful enough or they are not aware of the risks that exist out there. This is why it is important to go over what you can do to protect your pet.

How to Protect Your Pet

owners holding their dog in a blanket

There are many ways to prevent pet theft, but along with these, it is important to always have an alert mindset and pay attention to what is happening around you. Here are some precautions to take in order to protect your furry friends:

  • Collar and ID tags: Make sure to always have a collar with an ID tag on your pet when walking them. Most pets are unpredictable, and in case they get out of sight, people should be able to call you as soon as they find your pet. List your pet’s name and your contact info on the tag.
  • Constant supervision when outside: Even if you live in a friendly neighborhood or you have been walking your dogs in the same park since forever, it is important to always keep an eye on them. Constant supervision means that no strangers can snatch the pet when you are chatting with someone or resting your eyes. It is advised not to let your pets off-leash at all, but if you do, make sure you are always with them.
  • Location tracking devices: These devices are a must for when you are going outside. You can place a pet tracker on the collar or invest in a GPS pet tracking device with which you can define a safe zone and get an alert when your pet leaves the area. There are devices which also act as health monitors, in case your pet needs extra monitoring.
  • Microchips: Microchips are small cylindrical devices which can be implanted in the subcutaneous tissue of the pet. They are activated by a scanner and can send information related to the location of the pet, without being battery dependent. Microchipping is vet recommended that some pets which are considered dangerous are required to have microchips. You can talk to your vet about this alternative and see if it is a good idea for your situation.
  • Neutering: Pets that are not neutered are prone to pet theft because they can be used for breeding. Neutering in itself has many benefits, but it can also help reduce the risk of your pet being stolen.
  • Training: Training your pets is essential especially when you’re renting an apartment—as you want to avoid any property damage—but it’s also vital when you want your four-legged pals to stay close and not go astray when you are outdoors. Also, you should train them to be comfortable when left at home alone, because this alternative is much better than leaving them on a leash outside a grocery store or inside a car in a parking lot.

french bulldog laying down on bed in empty room

It pays well also to be cautious when a stranger approaches you and asks you detailed information about the pet. Try not to give details about the exact breed, the cost, or any personal info of your own.

When you have to give your pets away, and you’re looking for a new home for them, make sure to always check that the person you’re giving them to is reliable. Ask for pictures after you have given them the pet to make sure they are safe. You can also add a small fee, which might keep away thieves.

The same applies for when you return a stray pet. Ask for pictures of the owner with the pet or ask for details to make sure they are the rightful owners.

What to Do If Your Pet Was Stolen

scared face grey cat

First of all, you need to make sure the pet is not just lost before you alert authorities. Look at the evidence and the context in which your pet disappeared. Gather proof and try to make sense of a possible story. If the evidence points to theft, then act immediately. Get the word out in the community. Make posters with accurate information and up-to-date photos. Be careful about posting a reward, because that is one thing that thieves are looking for, and you might end up being scammed. There are apps you can use to alert other pet owners in the area, and you can always send out messages on social media and among friends.

How to Prevent Pet Theft in General

You should always do your part in making sure no one else’s pets are stolen either. The basic rule is don’t buy stolen pets. Always seek reliable sources when you want to buy a pet. Don’t get them from shady websites or at flea markets, because documents are easily falsified. In such cases, if something goes wrong after you bought the pet, there is no way of contacting the seller.

If you browse announcements, either in newspapers or online, look for those that do not have a fee, since that means the person did not steal the pet for money. Usually, the truly reliable source is another owner who is no longer able to take care of the pet. You can establish a relationship and send them pictures afterward. Rescue groups are also a safe alternative. If you want a purebred pet, make sure to research the breeders beforehand and find one with trustworthy reviews.

2 dogs looking out car window

In the end, there are a lot of things you can do to prevent pet theft; you just have to assume responsibility and maintain a wary state of mind. Taking care of your pets will let them know how much you treasure them because when they feel safe, they feel loved. With each person that becomes more responsible, the community becomes safer as well, and the risk of pet theft will diminish.

About the author: Mihaela is a passionate reader and writer, with an affinity for language and linguistics, as well as the latest technological developments. She loves her cat and will always stop on the streets to pet a dog, day or night. She discovered her passion for real estate at RENTCafé, and you can read more of her articles on their blog.

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