photo via flickr/CC
My beloved dog, Betsy, has been taken from me on three occasions. Twice ruffians took her when she was tied outside of a café; and a well-intentioned Whole Food's staffer took her, thinking Betsy was abandoned outside her store. I was lucky enough to get her back each time, but the same cannot be said for other victims of pet theft, the rate of which is on the rise. According to AKC Companion Animal Recovery National Pet Theft Database, approximately 224 pets have been reported stolen so far in 2011. This compared to 150 in the same period last year.
AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson:
"We are getting reports almost daily of pets stolen during home invasions, out of parked cars while people are running errands and even snatched from dog lovers out for a walk in the park, Fortunately, we have also seen recoveries of stolen pets because of their microchips which permanently identify them with their owners. A simple scan at the shelter or vet's office and the true identity of the real owner can be found by calling the pet recovery service."
Why would folks do this? The bad economy might be a factor. Increased thefts could be attributed to people wanting the pets to sell or to hold them for ransom. Or they might want their own pooch but don't want to pay for it.
AKC has some recommendations to prevent your pet form being stolen.
In the Neighborhood
• Don't let your dog off-leash - Keeping your dog close to you reduces the likelihood it will wander off and catch the attention of thieves.
• Don't leave your dog unattended in your yard - Dogs left outdoors for long periods of time are targets, especially if your fenced-in yard is visible from the street.
• Be Cautious with information - If strangers approach you to admire your dog during walks, don't answer questions about how much the dog cost or give details about where you live.
On the Road
• Never leave your dog in an unattended car, even if it's locked - Besides the obvious health risks this poses to the dog, it's also an invitation for thieves, even if you are gone for only a moment. Leaving expensive items in the car such as a GPS unit or laptop will only encourage break-ins and possibly allow the dog to escape, even if the thieves don't decide to steal it too.
• Don't tie your dog outside a store - This popular practice among city-dwelling dog owners can be a recipe for disaster. If you need to go shopping, patronize only dog-friendly retailers or leave the dog at home.
More tips at www.AKCCAR.org.