February 14th isn’t just Valentine’s Day. It is also a day to show our pets some extra love by participating in National Pet Theft Awareness Day. According to PetFinder as many as 2 million animals are stolen each year and only about 10% ever find their way back home. We’ve gathered up some tips to help keep your pet safe.
1. Ensuring your pet has a collar and tags as well as a microchip might not deter a thief, but in the event they are recovered they certainly can help get them back home. They can also really help if your pet gets lost.
2. Keep your dog on a leash. Wandering dogs can often be a target of thieves, and it is also a law in Michigan. (Side note from the author: I have almost picked up dogs thinking they were strays because they were running off leash way ahead of their owners or who were in the street or far from any homes. Not everyone who picks up your dog necessarily has nefarious intentions, but keeping them on a leash could help prevent them from getting picked up).
3. Leaving your pet unattended outside your home can also put them at risk, especially if it is for long periods of time.
4. Don’t leave your pet unattended in public places. Dogs tied up outside of stores and such can easily be swept away by a thief.
5. Many pets have also been stolen out of cars. If you are out running errands, it is much safer to leave your pet at home. In hot or cold weather it is also a bad idea to leave your pet in a car, so there are many reasons not to bring your pet along on your trip to the store.
6. Spay or neuter your pet. Some people steal pets with the intention of breeding them.
7. Be cautious of what information you provide about your pet, especially how much you paid for them if they are purebred and where you live. No one likes to think the worst of people, but you never know.
If you think your pet may have been stolen:
- File a police report.
- Talk to people who may have been nearby when it happened. Gather as much information as possible.
- Contact local vets and animal shelters. Make them aware that your pet was stolen and give them a description and your contact information in case they show up.
- Watch Craigslist, Facebook Free & For Sale pages, newspaper, etc for a pet fitting your pet’s description.
- Hang up posters in your area with a detailed description of your pet and a photo if possible. Offering a reward could also possibly get someone to come forward.
We never want to think about the worst happening to our own pets, but it never hurts to take precautions just in case.