What Is Pet Theft?
Pet theft is the removal of your pet from the home, car, yard, kennel, or other location by someone who doesn’t own or isn’t allowed to care for them. In many cases, pets that are stolen are considered high-value; such as rare or unusual dog and cat breeds. However, pets can be stolen for a number of reasons, including resale, illegal fighting rings, illegal testing, and more. Any pet has the potential to be stolen. With pet theft on the rise, it’s important to know what to do.
What Precautions Can You Take?
Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to prevent pet theft. These tips can also help you quickly recover your pet in the event they are stolen:
Microchip Your Pet or Use a GPS Collar
Microchipping your pet is the easiest way to ensure they are safe. A microchip is a tiny device the size of a grain of rice placed between your dog or cat’s shoulder blades. This procedure is often done when your pet is spayed or neutered, however, a microchip can be placed at any time. Many shelters also automatically microchip any unchipped pets that are adopted.
Special devices are used to read microchips. The ID number is then used to look up your pet’s information. Addresses, phone numbers, pet health history, authorized owners, and more can all be linked to a microchip. Almost every veterinary clinic and animal shelter has a universal microchip reader that will allow them to find and search for your pet’s information in the event they are lost or stolen and brought to one of these locations.
A GPS collar is another useful product. If your pet is lost, stolen, or you get separated, you can use this device to track your pet. The device can be pinged to locate your pet via a phone app or special tracker. However, one drawback compared to microchips is that these collars can be removed by would-be thieves. In the event your pet is stolen, and the collar is removed, you would only be able to find their last known location.
Keep Your Pet’s Records Up to Date
In addition to microchipping your pet, it’s a good idea to keep your pet’s records up to date. It is free to update your pet’s information with the microchip company you use. Addresses and phone numbers are obvious, but including a photo of any unique markings or changes to your pet’s appearance is also beneficial to have on file.
There are also official registries for pets that you can sign up for that keep your pet’s records and microchip info. It’s also a good idea to note any changed information with your veterinarian, kennels you board at, or with pet sitters. This can help them contact you more quickly in the event of a problem.
Take Care When Traveling
If you’re going to be traveling, it’s a good idea not to disclose your itinerary. Would-be thieves can use the knowledge of your schedule to remove pets from yards or homes. Leaving your pet unattended in the car or your yard can also attract potential thieves. If you will be using a kennel, be sure to give them an authorized list of who can pick up your pet to ensure they aren’t sent home with a thief. Setting indoor and outdoor lights on a timer can also discourage would-be thieves from investigating your home too closely.
What to Do If Your Pet Is Stolen
If your pet is stolen, these steps can help you find and bring them home quickly:
Contact Local Authorities
If your pet is stolen, contact your local police department. Police can file a report in the event you need to press charges against a thief. It’s also a good idea to create a handout of your pet’s information to add to the report. Include any records of ownership or licensing and a photo with any identifiable markings. This will help in the identification of your pet if found or turned in. It can also be used to confirm you are the rightful owner of your pet if there is a dispute.
Contact Your Local Veterinary Clinic and Animal Shelter
Many veterinary clinics will allow owners to place lost and found flyers in their front offices. Local shelters also take lost and found reports and will match them to any animals brought into the shelter. Shelters and clinics generally also scan any new pet brought into their location. If your pet is microchipped, they can then cross-reference this information with any filed lost or stolen reports and see if it’s a match to yours.
Contact Your Microchip or GPS Collar Company
Many microchip and GPS collar companies will also put out lost or stolen pet reports for a small fee. They can also help you update your pet’s information or note that they’re lost or stolen. GPS collars can also send out a location ping. If your pet is still wearing it, it may let you know their last known location, making it easier to search for them.
Be sure to let friends, family, neighbors, and even your pet’s breeder know if your pet was stolen in addition to contacting shelters and veterinary clinics. They can help keep an eye out for any pets matching the description of your own.
Having your pet stolen can be a terrifying and awful event to experience. However, taking precautions to ensure your pet isn’t stolen, and knowing what to do if they are, can help you both be reunited more quickly.