The American Kennel Club reports that the number of pets stolen in 2012 (450) increased by 31% for 2013 (590). These statistics only applied to AKC registered pets, meaning that the actual number is probably far greater. Unfortunately, dogs are only considered stolen property by police reports, so to know the actual number of stolen dogs each year is impossible. Regardless, that is at least 590 pet owners who may potentially never know what happened to their animals after they suddenly disappeared.
What Can You Do?
Ensuring that dogs, cats, or other more exotic pets are protected from theft requires some common sense measures that must become routine for pet owners.
Firstly, dogs should never be left outside, in the front or backyard, unless they are being monitored. Dogs that live outdoors usually do so in locked, fully enclosed kennels to shield them from trespassers and the elements. Leaving a pet to freely roam in a fenced in backyard while at work is a foolish move, as it presents an opportunity for theft and may make the dog more aggressive. Dogs are often reported stolen from parked cars while owners are patronizing a business, so it’s also never a good idea to do that either.
Secondly, depending on the location, many pet owners sign up for home alarm subscriptions through companies such as ADT and Comcast. Even the most basic, cost effective service packages provide 24 hour monitoring of all perimeter openings. Police are dispatched if the alarm is not promptly deactivated after a breach and the sound alone is a deterent from further intrustion. More fancy service packages offer motion sensors and surveillance cameras that provide video feed straight to pet owners’ smart phones and devices.
Finally, all dogs and cats should have microchips implanted for the purpose of identification. Manufacturers such as HomeAgain, Datamars and Avid all provide 15 digit, internationally recognized microchips (ISO compliant & necessary for travel) that can be implanted and read by any veterinarian with a universal scanner. In addition to microchips, companies are starting to make small, canine GPS devices that can pinpoint a dog’s location to within a few feet. Services like GPS Pet Collar and TAGG make small collar receivers that give owners the ability to monitor their pets’ real time and past activity via their smart phones.
Why Do Thieves Want Pets?
The pet industry continues to expand from $55 and a half billion in 2013 during one of the worst economic periods in the country’s history. As criminal activity increases during harsh economic times, thieves are realizing that abducting a pet for ransom is almost a surefire way to collect. Even without a ransom from pet owners, thieves can take advantage of services like CraigsList and Puppy Finder to flip the stolen pet for massive profits.
Owners of French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, and other breeds considered highly popular by the AKC should be particularly wary, as they command higher prices. Large breeds like Rottweilers and APBTs are also highly desired for resale, protection, or illicit dog fighting operations, although these breeds usually don’t go very willingly.
The most unsettling aspect of pet theft involves the market for research animals. The USDA admits “that there are documented accounts of lost pets that have ended up in research institutions through Class B Dealers.” One can speculate from this admission that becoming a “Class B Dealer” is not all that difficult. This admission also underlines the importance of implanting a microchip (which could be read by handlers prior to any laboratory research).
At Premier Pet Relocation, we have never, nor will we ever, facilitate the transporation of animals for laboratory research purposes. We are solely concerned with the safe, prompt relocation of peoples’ personal pets and are firmly against assisting laboratories with research animals. When selecting the right pet relocation service provider for your pet, make sure to ask the agent over the phone if his or her company also transports research animals.
For a free quote and more tips on keeping your pet safe at home or during travel, give us a call!