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Armitage Animal Clinic

Providing excellence in health care…for your pets!

Call us today! 905 836-4001
Call us today! 905-836-4001
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18025 Yonge St, Unit 6
Newmarket, ON L3Y 8C9

Pet Theft FAQs – Answers From a Sharon Veterinarian

February 1 2024

The month of February is dedicated to Pet Theft Awareness. This may not be the most light-hearted topic we cover, but it’s certainly an important one. Each year, millions of pets are stolen, a statistic which is both staggering and heartbreaking. Even sadder, only one in ten stolen pets are ever safely reunited with their owners. Here are some pivotal insights from a local Sharon, ON veterinarian.

Which Pets Are Targeted The Most By Thieves? 

While some types of pets may be more at risk than others, thieves could potentially find opportunity in any animal. Unfortunately, some pets are taken with the sole purpose of being bait for fighting dogs. Others might be sold to laboratories for testing purposes. The vast majority of animals stolen, however, are taken by ‘flippers’, or those who want to make a profit by reselling the stolen animal to someone else. 

Purebreds tend to be the biggest target of pet-nappers. In fact, French Bulldogs are among the most popular because not only are they pricey, but they’re also small enough to be carried away easily. Some so-called ‘designer’ dogs, such as Labradoodles, are also appealing to shady dealers.

These are the most stolen dog breeds:

  • Pit Bull
  • German Shepherd
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Labradoodle
  • Chihuahua
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • French Bulldog
  • Boston Terrier
  • Maltese
  • Pomeranian
  • Yorkshire Terrier

For more information, contact your Sharon, ON veterinarian.

What Should I Do If My Pet Is Stolen?

Although we hope this never happens to any of you, it is unfortunately a very real possibility. The most important thing to remember is urgency. The quicker you act, the better the chances of getting your beloved pet back safely.

If you believe your four-legged friend has been stolen, you should contact law enforcement immediately. This is especially the case if you have any evidence of the crime, such as video or a description of the perpetrator.

Next, you’ll want to create a flier that includes as much information about your pet as possible, including:

  • Size
  • Sex
  • Color
  • Markings
  • Breed (Keep in mind that if your dog’s breed isn’t commonly known, people may not make the connection by name alone.)
  • Include a few photos of your pet. Ideally, from a few different angles
  • Last seen date and location of your pet

In addition, you can offer a reward for information, though you’ll want to follow the advice and guidance of your local police department. The promise of money can go a long way toward motivating people to return the pet or share information they may have about the animal’s whereabouts.

If your pet has a medical issue, mention it! People may be more inclined to return pets that need special attention if you tug at their heartstrings a bit.

Once the flyer is complete, get it in front of as many people as possible. Hang it on poles in nearby neighborhoods. Post it on all of your local social media pages. Share it with all the lost/missing pet groups in your city, county, and state. You could also send it to veterinary clinics, shelters, rescue groups, and even distribute it at local dog parks.

A word of caution: if you suspect you know who took your pet, do not approach them yourself. Call the police instead. Not only could a confrontation turn dangerous, but it might also increase the risk of your pet being taken elsewhere, which could make it harder for you to get him back. Leave the investigating to law enforcement professionals.

Locating A Stolen Pet

Creating a flyer and contacting the authorities are important first steps. Next, you’ll want to start searching. Do a thorough walk-around of your area. Call your pet’s name. Carefully check places like empty properties and wooded lots to see if they may have escaped and south refuge there.

You’ll also want to start monitoring local marketplaces, such as Facebook and Craigslist, for listings about pets for sale. It’s not a bad idea to post your own classified ad about your missing pet. The more publicity you can get, the better.

Finally, check with your local shelters. Look for those located within an hour’s drive.

Whatever you do, don’t give up! There have been many stories about missing pets being reunited with their owners even after years have passed.

What Can I Do To Keep My Pet Safe From Thieves?

While all pets are at risk of being stolen, there are certain things you can do to reduce the chances of this happening to you.

  • Spaying/Neutering: As a first step, you should get your pet fixed. Unfortunately, some people steal pets for the purpose of breeding them. And while the law is cracking down on puppy mills, there are still plenty of them out there. Another benefit of getting your pet fixed is that they are less likely to run off in search of love than they would be if they were intact.
  • Microchipping: As a responsible Sharon, ON vet, we recommend all pets be microchipped. To date, there have been thousands—probably millions—of lost or stolen pets reunited with their worried humans simply because they were microchipped. Make sure your contact information is up to date in the manufacturer’s registry, otherwise the chip won’t do you any good. You can verify the accuracy of your records by using the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool here.
  • ID Tags: Identification tags are the easiest way for someone who finds your pet to contact you. You might also consider including the word ‘reward’ on the tag as well.
  • GPS Tags/Collars: These tech gadgets are definitely good to have. While they can certainly be cut off, they may sometimes provide enough information to get a lead.
  • Security: Last but certainly not least, keep your pet safely under your control and/or contained.

Cats are best kept indoors at all times. In addition to protecting Fluffy from thieves, she will also be safeguarded against other hazards, including cars and weather.

Dogs should always be kept leashed while on walks. Fenced yards may be convenient, but if you have a purebred pup and a low fence near a busy sidewalk, your dog could still be at risk. Extra security measures, like doorbell cameras, may not stop thieves entirely, but could help identify them. Thick shrubs can also serve as a barrier to prevent people from getting over them.

Pet theft is an unfortunate downside of invisible fences, as there is no barrier to prevent a would-be thief from entering the yard and quickly removing the pet’s collar.

Finally, we recommend paying attention to what is going on around you. For instance, if a car slowly drives by while Fido is out in the yard, take him inside right away and be extra cautious going forward.

For more information, contact your local Sharon, ON veterinary clinic.

What Are the Most Common Ways Pets Are Stolen?

Many heartbreaking videos show people snatching pets out of yards or even right out of the loving arms of their owners. However, the majority of pet thefts occur when animals are left alone. To avoid this, you should never leave your furry friend in an unsecured area or unsupervised while outdoors.

What Can I Do To Help Stop Pet Theft?

As a Good Samaritan, you can do several things. When looking for a new pet, be careful who you interact with. Always ask for and verify proof of ownership. If you’ve got some extra time, you can browse lost and found ads to see if any of them match. Even just spreading awareness helps.

Sadly, millions of companion animals get stolen from their owners every year. You can protect your pet by making sure they are fixed, microchipped, and wearing proper ID tags.

Still concerned about pet theft? Would you like to schedule microchipping or spay/neuter surgery? Contact us, your local Sharon, ON animal hospital, today!