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How to Protect Against Dog Theft

By: Tona Miller

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Since 2008, America has seen a rise in the number of dog-related thefts. Distressed owners have found themselves trying everything to reunite with their lost dogs, but most have had to face their losses without their dogs.

Just how large of an increase do we mean? The American Kennel Association released a report in 2011 summarizing this unfortunate trend: it claims in 2008 the total number of reported dog thefts was 71 but from January until July in 2011 there were 224 reports. That's nearly a sixfold increase...and that's only the number of thefts which were reported.

The motives for theft are unclear. Some people believe dogs are stolen so they can later be returned for reward money. Thieves will rob a home of its belongings and dogs, then wait to see if a reward is offered. When that happens they return the dogs while posing as good Samaritans. This scam has sadly become quite widespread.

Unfortunately a declining economy also means that more and more criminals are looking to dog theft as a source of quick cash. Dogs can easily be sold through classified ads, online, or through the black market--whatever means possible for profit. This sad state of affairs often leads to distraught owners with no real to prosecute the thieves for the crimes they have committed, and no closure for the loss of their pet.

What dogs are the most popular targets? Unsurprisingly, small dogs are at the top of the list. Dogs like Yorkies and Pomeranians are easy to pick up and transport, and tend to have a bigger market than larger breeds. They can easily be picked up over a fence or hastily put into a car or purse before their owners know what is happening.

You're probably starting to wonder about the safety of your own pets. Is there anything you can do to help safeguard against this abominable practice? YES. As is the case with many things, prevention is key.
If you and your family are planning to leave the house for a getaway, be sure your dog is in good hands. Place your beloved pooch in a boarding facility if you cannot send them to a friend's while you are gone. Simply having someone come to check on them and give them walks is not enough! Thieves are unfortunately very smart sometimes, and will keep an eye out to see when people are around (or, more accurately, when they are not). If your dog is left in your home unattended it is at risk for being stolen. If at all possible, you should take your dog with you when you leave. And never leave your dog running free in the yard unattended; they could easily be picked up.

Another safe guard is to be sure to have your pet micro-chipped. Dog tags and identifying haircuts can easily be removed by criminals. One of the few surefire ways to identify your dog is through microchipping or vet-administered identification tattooing. Pet theft is a serious issue. The vast majority of victims never see their dogs again. Keep your pets safe with a little precaution and avoid the tragedy that thieves can bring.


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