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Preventing dog theft

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According to an April 8, 2008 report from the American Kennel Club (AKC), there has been an alarming rise in recent months in the reported incidence of dog thefts. Ranging from armed robbers entering the home of a dog breeder, to snatchings of purebred dogs in parking lots, the rate of such incidents tracked by the AKC has mushroomed to 30 in just the first three months of 2008, from 10 in all of 2007.

Financial value

While the reason for this troubling increase is unclear, it may very well be that dog thieves are becoming more aware of the potential financial value of pets, whether from reselling them or using them as breeding stock.

“The value of pets in people’s lives has been on the rise for a long time, and now we are seeing thieves trying to capitalize on this,” said AKC spokesperson Linda Peterson. “Whether they seek to resell the dog, collect a ransom or breed the dogs and sell their offspring, thieves seem to be attuned to the increased financial and emotional value pets have in our lives.”

Whatever the reason for this increase in dog thievery, what is important is that dog owners arm themselves with the knowledge they need to protect their dogs – and themselves – from becoming victims. As Peterson said: “Losing a treasured family pet is devastating to the owner.”

An ounce of prevention

Dog thieves are clever and know where to look to find opportunities that they can take advantage of. The good news is that there are things you can do to prevent the tragedy of a dog theft. The AKC recommends these concrete steps:

  • Keep your dog on a leash. A dog that wanders off from its owner is far more likely to fall into the hands of a thief than one kept close by.
  • Don’t leave your dog unattended in your yard. This is especially important if you are going to be away from home for a long period of time.
  • Avoid answering prying questions about how much you paid for your purebred dog. It’s hard to know if a stranger’s questions are an indication of innocent curiosity and admiration or of something more sinister.
  • If you are a breeder, be alert to the danger of thieves posing as puppy buyers and burglars who may target your facilities.

There are some special cautions to observe when away from home:

  • Don’t leave your dog unattended in a car, even for a short period. Keep in mind that a determined dog-thief will not be deterred by a locked door.
  • Don’t leave your dog tied up outside a store while you shop. It may be convenient, but it’s a perfect opportunity for a thief.
  • Remember that thieves target venues such as grooming salons, doggie day-care establishments and veterinarians. Be alert to your surroundings when you frequent these places.

Microchipping: Improving the odds of recovery

A lost dog is not necessarily a lost cause. The practice of microchipping – having an electronic “tag” implanted under your dog’s skin with identifying information – increases the likelihood that your dog will be returned to you. There are various microchipping and pet recovery services available. Information on the AKC service is available here.

Now that you know the risk, you can prevent the loss. Knowledge is power. Use it well!

Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas,V.M.D.
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