Founded by LCA in 1988 to raise awareness for the issue of pet theft and educate the public on how best to protect their companion animals from the hands of unscrupulous thieves, National Pet Theft Awareness Day (PTAD) is observed annually on Valentine's Day—a day that often sees a considerable spike in pet thefts.
Why does pet theft occur?
Pet thefts generally occur for one primary reason: money. "Dog flipping," one of the most common reasons for pet theft, occurs when dogs are stolen for the purpose of being sold for profit. The stolen dogs are typically resold to unsuspecting new owners, to puppy mills, or to backyard breeders to become breeding machines. Dognappers also target dogs so that they can be used as bait or as fighters in illegal dogfighting rings.
All it takes is a few seconds for your beloved pet to be stolen, dragged off your front porch or snatched from your yard. In fact, in the time it takes you to read this sentence, someone could have stolen your pet!
Which dogs are most at risk?
Dog breeds that are most at risk of being stolen are purebred dogs—especially toy breeds like a Maltese, Chihuahua, or Yorkshire Terrier (which is the most stolen dog breed in the United States). Designer breeds like Puggles (a cross between a pug and a beagle) are also common targets because they are worth thousands of dollars. Of course, this doesn't mean a mutt is not at risk of being stolen. Regardless of pedigree, dogs that are left unsupervised have a very high chance of being taken.
How can you protect your pets?
Thankfully, there are simple ways you can help protect your pet from being stolen:
- Never leave your pets unsupervised.
- Properly identify your pets with a collar, tag, and microchip.
- Spay and neuter your pets.
- Keep up-to-date information on your pet (recent photo and description).
- Always be aware of your surroundings.
What should you do if your pet is stolen or goes missing?
- Immediately call the police and file a report so there is a record of the theft.
- Contact your local animal control department, shelters, and pounds to see if they have your pet. You can also file a lost pet report with each shelter.
- Canvass your neighborhood and put up "missing" flyers with an up-to-date photo of your dog along with accurate contact information.
- Search online "lost" dog sites (such as Craigslist or Center for Lost Pets) to see if someone has found your pet.
- Be aware of scams! People may claim to have found your pet only to recover the reward money. If a stranger calls saying they've found your missing pet, make sure they return your pet to you before giving them a reward.
For more information on pet theft and Pet Theft Awareness Day please visit www.StolenPets.com