Friday, July 6, 2012

Protect your pets from theft

Liam the pug napping on the couch
Who wouldn't want to steal a pup this cute?
I'm an avid New Yorker reader, and a few years ago, I remember reading this story about dog theft in New York. The author used a tongue-in-cheek tone, mocking these owners for their concerns, and the author pointed out that no dog thefts had been reported to police. The article ends with a quote from a poly-sci prof who suggested that people fixated on dog theft because they had larger concerns about the economy. In a word, the article implied that dog theft was all hysteria.

Times have changed.

According to a recent article, there has been a 49 percent increase in the number of stolen dogs reported between 2010 and 2011. While I've done no major research on my own, I can see several entries almost every day on the Portland craigslist.com from people who are asking about their own stolen pets. It seems that the threat of dog theft is real, and it's on the rise.

Pets could get stolen for a variety of reasons. Some people might steal them to sell them again, especially if the dogs are small, cute and from a recognizable breed. Some people might steal them in order to breed them and make more money on the pups they could produce. And finally, some people might just steal them in order to keep them as pets. It happens.

There's no real way to make sure your pet is completely theft-proof, but there are some commonsense things that people can do to make theft a bit less likely:
  • Don't tie your pet out in public places. People who leave their pets unattended outside of stores, coffee shops or restaurants might be inviting trouble.
  • Don't put your pet in the yard unattended. Some local thieves seem to be nabbing pets from their yards when owners put them out for the last bathroom break. It's best to go with them. 
  • Don't leave your pet in the car. That's what happened in this story, but thankfully, the man got his dog back. 
  • Don't use expensive, shiny bling on your dog. Rhinestone collars, Burberry coats, etc., all scream money and they could make nabbers target your dog.
  • Microchip, microchip, microchip. If your dog is stolen, this is (almost) the only way to legally prove that the dog is yours. 
  • Spay and neuter. If your dog can't be shipped off to a breeding organization, it might be less valuable to thieves.
If your dog is stolen, by all means, report it! Highlighting the case on craigslist.com is all well and good, but asking the police to join in the search is always prudent. Your dog may be found when the cops bust these people for other offenses. While the investigation is ongoing, follow these excellent tips for making a great lost dog sign.

Stay safe in these rough economic times, everyone, and if your pet has been stolen, please shoot me an email. I'm happy to highlight your case on this blog.