February 14th isn’t just a day for lovers. It’s also National Pet Theft Awareness Day. Did you know that thousands of dogs and cats in the U.S. are stolen every year? The worst part is that these numbers are only increasing. You may think that it will never happen to you, but sadly it can happen to anyone. So, in honor of Pet Theft Awareness Day, we’ve compiled some tips to help keep your pet from becoming a statistic.
Why do pets get stolen?
Whether it’s a specific breed and color, or simply opportunity, it can be hard to tell why certain animals are targeted. Or as Dr. Stacy Eckman from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences points out, “Many pets may not be ‘stolen’ but wander off and get lost, and the finders just fail to look for the actual owner.”
How can I keep my pet safe?
- Proper ID – Making sure your pet has updated ID on their collar is imperative. If they wander off and you can easily be contacted by the information on the tags, the chances of their return is far greater.
- Microchipping – Some pet parents shy away from microchipping because it is injected to your pets epidermal layers. However, it can be incredibly beneficial if your pet goes missing. Plus most animals don’t even realize it’s there. As Dr. Eckman states, “Microchips are great because they cannot be lost or removed like a collar or tag can be and the information can be changed if you move or change ownership.” She also explains that “most shelters and other animal facilities scan for microchips when an animal is presented to them, making it easier to reunite an owner with their pet.”
- Secure your yard – Fix holes in your fence and keep the gate locked. If you can, try not to leave them alone in the yard for extended periods of time or on a routine. Predators may look for a dog that is routinely out in the yard alone.
- Keep them leashed – Always keep your pet on a leash when you’re walking. Keep extra leashes and collars in your car or bag when you are on the go. And never tie them up alone while you’re in a store.
If you think that your pet has been stolen, first call every shelter, vet office and even grooming and pet stores. Notify the law enforcement and animal control in your area. Put up reward posters around your neighborhood on your social media. If your neighborhood has a Nextdoor community, make sure to put it there as well.
It’s easy to have a false sense of security when it comes to our pets. After all, who would steal an innocent furbaby, right? But pet theft does and it can happen to anyone. Luckily, it can be prevented if you take the steps to make sure your pets are safe.