Garanimals Blog

July 6th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Protect Your Pet from Loss and Theft

Everyone has heard tales of lost pets: some have happy endings, some tragic, but did you know that pet theft is on the rise? About 5 million pets are reported missing each year, and approximately 2 million of those are forcibly taken. Pure bred dogs are stolen most frequently, often for sale to dog-fighting rings or puppy mills.

But it’s not only dogs that are stolen; all kinds of animals are at risk. Just last weekend, someone broke into my husband’s pet store in the middle of the night and stole a 70-pound, four-foot Sulcata tortoise — not an easy thing to steal or to hide. In fact, his store has suffered so much loss to theft that he has put locks on every single cage and pen, with the exception of the tortoise area, which was specially designed and kept open for the benefit of the tortoises.

What can you do to protect your pet? First and foremost, be a responsible owner. Know where your pet is at all times and keep it indoors, especially when you are away from home. Here are some other important steps:

  • collar and tag your pet with your name, address and phone number. Most vets and pet shops have connections for ordering tags, or you can purchase them online.
  • register your pet. Most communities require you to purchase a license for dogs and cats (some for other pets, as well). Fees are usually minimal and registration can help reunite you with your lost animal.
  • tattoos and microchips can also help locate and identify your animal, and they cannot easily be removed. Microchipping is as easy as an injection. The ASPCA actually adds a small tattoo during the spay/neuter process, in part to let pet care providers know that a female animal has been already been spayed. Tattoos can blur, fade or get covered in fur, however, so many pet tattoos were done on the inner ear, but pet thieves have been known to cut off the ear, so tattooing may not be the best choice. Consult with your vet.
  • spay/neuter your pet. This will reduce an animal’s tendency to run off, and makes them less desirable to many thieves.
  • keep a record of your pet’s tag and registration numbers along with a current photo.

If you decide you cannot keep your pet, make sure you find a good home with references. Avoid “free-to-good-home” ads, as this is one way people with bad intentions acquire animals.

We’re happy to report that, thanks to a broad community-wide effort and lots of help from the media, Spur the Tortoise was returned safely after about 30 hours. If your pet does go missing, be sure to tap into your personal networks and social networks for help.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of People, Mike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blog, as well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.


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