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Dognapped! Keeping Your Dog Safe from Pet Theft

Dognapped! Keeping Your Dog Safe from Pet Theft

We have to take steps every day to protect our cars and valuables from being stolen. We lock doors, put up security cameras, and install alarms to stop thieves from taking what’s ours.

Sadly, many pet owners don’t realize that their beloved dogs are also at risk of pet theft until it’s too late.

No pet owner wants to think about dognapping, but the best way to keep your dog safe is to be aware and prepared.

According to statistics, pet theft is on the rise, and about two million dogs are stolen every year, and only about 10% are ever reunited with their owners.

It only takes a thief a few seconds to snatch your dog. Thieves don’t care that your dog is a member of the family… they just see a quick and easy way to make a few bucks.

Why are dogs taken?

Pet theft has become a significant issue not only in the US but also throughout Germany and the United Kingdom.

In most cases, the dogs are stolen for monetary gain or to be used in illegal dog fighting rings.

Dog flipping has become a multi-million dollar business. Often, when a dog is dognapped, the thief turns a profit by selling the dog online, or in some cases, by returning it to the original owner to get a reward.

If a dog is taken to be used in an illegal dogfighting ring, it will most likely be used as a bait dog.

Just attending a dog fight can get you charged with a felony in the US, but it still happens more than you might think. If you suspect there’s animal fighting going on in your area, report it right away.

Keeping Your Dog Safe from Pet Theft

As dog owners, we do everything we can to keep our furry family members healthy by providing lots of love and the best care possible.

Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to keep your dog safe from pet theft, too. It just requires some dedication, planning, and awareness.

  1. Keep a collar and tags on your dog at all times. Although a thief can easily take off your dog’s collar and tags, not everyone is a thief. If your dog simply gets out of the yard or slips out the door, current ID tags could help a well-meaning neighbor find his home quickly. And, having a microchip tag like the Whistle Pet GPS on his collar may be all you need to discourage a potential thief.
  2. Never let your dog go outside by himself. Letting your dog wander on his own is just asking for trouble. Many dogs disappear when their owners let them out to do their business. Unattended dogs are easy targets for pet thieves, and there are stories on the news all the time about pets who simply disappear without a trace from their own yards.
  3. Invest in a good fence. There are two very good reasons to fence in your yard. First, it keeps your dog from wandering the neighborhood when you let him out to do his business. And second, it presents a challenge for potential thieves who could be scouting your neighborhood looking for easy targets. If you can, invest in a tall privacy fence. Out of sight means out of mind. If they can’t see your dog hanging out in the yard, they may not be tempted to steal it. Invest in a good padlock for the gate, too. It may not prevent everyone from entering, but it will certainly slow them down.
  4. Secure your doggy door. Doggy doors create a point of entry for all types of thieves, not just dognappers. If your home has a doggy door, secure it any time you’ll be away from home. Take your dog out right before you leave, put him in the house, and lock every exterior door before you head out.
  5. Don’t leave pets in the yard when you’re not home. This should go without saying, but many pet owners think their dogs are safe if they’re in a fenced-in yard or on the porch when they’re not home. Unfortunately, leaving your dog outside when you’re away gives a thief plenty of time to enter the yard, snatch your dog, and be gone before you get back. The safest place for any pet is inside your secured house when you aren’t there.
  6. Never leave your pet alone when you’re out in public. This is another no-brainer for most pet owners. But, if you’ve ever walked up to a convenience store and seen a dog tied up out front waiting for its owner, you know it still happens. Talk about making it easy for potential thieves! If you are heading out to the store and your dog can’t go in with you, leave him at home where he’s safe. Never leave your dog unattended in the car, either.
  7. Microchip your dog and have current photos on hand. In the horrible event that your dog is stolen despite your best efforts, you will need to be able to prove that he is yours. Having current photos is essential for local social media lost pet groups and lost pet posters. If his collar and tags are lost or removed, having him microchipped may be the only way to identify him. Not only that but if he gets sold to someone else, a microchip could be your only chance of ever being reunited. Don’t forget to keep all of your contact information up to date with the microchip company.

If your dog does get lost or stolen, you should share his current picture with every veterinarian and animal shelter in your area right away. Post his photo on lost pet websites and social media and hang posters in your neighborhood.

Spreading the word to as many people as possible will improve your chances of getting your dog back home safe and sound.

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Karen Acuna
Karen is a contributing author to Puppy Smarts. A full-time animal behavioral therapist, Karen has 20+ years dealing with specialty animals of all kinds. Karen lives in Dallas, TX with her husband and 3 pups.

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