Preventing Pet Theft
By Robin Tierney
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The following has been condensed from the article,
"Protect Your Dog from Loss or Theft," at
www.hua.org/Important/theft.html. This Hearts United
for Animals webpage was found by PAW volunteer Lynne
According to Hearts United for Animals, an estimated
1.5 million dogs and cats are stolen every year in
this country. "Bunchers" roam streets and back roads
in search of dogs to sell to laboratories or for other
purposes. Here are some suggestions for protecting
If your dog is missing:
- Do not let your dog roam.
- Check the security of your yard. The only safe
fence is one that protects your dog from anyone who
would try to come into your yard.
- Even with a fenced yard, supervise your dog
outside. Dogs should not be left outside when their
people are not home.
- Keep current photos of your dog in case he ever
winds up missing.
- Keep i.d. tags with your up-to-date address and
phone number on your dog at all times. Tip:
displaying the word "REWARD" can give people more
incentive to call you.
- While tattooing is a useful type of i.d., it does
not substitute for a tag. And be careful where you
have a dog tattooed; some dogs have had tattooed ears
- Microchip your dog in addition to using an i.d.
tag. AVID is one popular type of microchip. Ask your
vet about microchipping, which usually costs about $30
Another helpful website on the topic is
www.stolenpets.com sponsored by the Last Chance for
Animals rescue organization. This site also includes
information on the proposed Pet Safety and Protection
Act, with a sample letter and contact information to
use if you'd like to support this legislation. The
website notes that the Pet Safety and Protection Act
amends the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit Class B
dealers, who obtain the animals from "random sources,"
from supplying cats and dogs to research facilities.
Many of these animals may be stolen pets, strays,
seized shelter animals, or obtained through "free to
good home" ads. The Act is sponsored by Senators
Daniel Akaka and Bob Smith.
- Call every shelter, veterinary clinic and law
enforcement office in your region. Some dogs can
travel very far very quickly. Also, the dog could
have been picked up and dumped elsewhere by a would-be
- Call radio and tv stations to ask them to run an
announcement. Offering a reward often helps motivate a
- Post REWARD posters all over the area. They should
be large, in color and with photos. Copy centers can
make color copies. Make smaller copies in flyer form.
Display the flyers at area businesses, libraries, the
post office, banks and other places popular places.
- Ask everyone you know to join in the search. Most
pets who are found are found within 24 hours, so act
as quickly as possible.
- Bunchers are required by the Animal Welfare Act to
keep records of all animals they handle. They are also
required to hold a dog for five days before they ship
him. You can get a list of puppy/dog dealers and
haulers from the AWA at 310-436-7833; try to visit
them in person to look for your dog. If possible,
find a police officer to accompany you.
- Leave your fence gate open in case your dog comes
home on his own.
- Post the information to dog-related newsgroups on
the Internet. A good search group on the Internet is
- Ask your mail carrier if he or she can take flyers
to the homes they deliver mail to. Talk to UPS, Fed Ex
and others who regularly drive the neighborhoods and
can keep a watch out for your dog.
- Don't give up. Some dogs are found months later.
For more of Robin's Dog Tips, see the index at
Partnership for Animal Welfare
P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768
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