“I just left him for two seconds”
“I had tied him to the post”
“I just went in to buy coffee and he disappeared.”
These are the immediate reactions of a frightened pet owner after their pets have gone missing.
Cases of pet theft are on the rise in the United States, and you should not wait until your dog is lost to practice caution. Losing a pet is one of the worst nightmares that pet parents should never go through.
Knowing how to prevent pet theft or the actions you should take immediately your dog goes missing can be the determinant if you will find him.
An estimated two million dogs and cats are stolen each year in the United States, and there is an estimated 31% increase in cases of pet theft in recent years.
According to the FBI, certain dog breeds have a higher risk of being stolen than others. Some of the high-risk dog breeds include German shepherd, Pit Bulls, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, etc.
What causes Pet Theft?
There are various reasons why people may be tempted to steal pets whenever they get an opportunity.
The most common reason why people steal dogs is to earn a profit by selling them to unsuspecting buyers and breeders. Unique and pure dog breeds such as the Yorkshire Terriers and Maltese are often sold off to backstreet breeders in return for cash since these dog breeds are rare to find or are costly to buy.
Prize-winning dogs may also be stolen for the reward or prestige. Dogs that have a record of winning prizes for the well-built muscles, agility or intelligence are more vulnerable to dog theft. For example, in 2014, a suspected pet burglar was arrested for stealing an award-winning French bulldog valued at $80, 000, which he planned to resell.
Aggressive dogs such as Pit Bulls, German Shepherd Dogs, and American Stafford shire Terriers may also be stolen and sold off to dog fighting rings. These dogs may then be used as fighter dogs or bait dogs. These practices are considered an abuse of animals and are illegal in most countries.
Cases of disgruntled neighbors and angry lovers have also been quoted as one of the reasons why pets are stolen. If you suspect that your “evil” neighbor or angry lover is behind your lost dog, you should use this as a lead when making a report with the authorities.
How to Find Lost Dog or Cat
Losing a pet is a terrifying experience, and most pet owners tend to get helpless immediately their pets go missing.
If your pet is stolen or goes missing at home, you should spring into action immediately to increase your chances of finding her. Any second that gets wasted makes the chances of finding her even slimmer.
Here are the immediate courses of action that you should take to increase the chances of reuniting with your pet:
Check thoroughly at home
If your pet goes missing at home, you should intensify the search within the compound to confirm that she is not actually around.
You should try searching at her favorite hangout spots, probably an area they are familiar with. This could be the garage, yard shed, beneath the car, or even inside your bedroom. When frightened, dogs tend to hide in a dark corner where they are assured of their safety before help arrives.
When looking around the compound, carry the dog’s favorite treats or toys that would encourage them to get out of the hiding. Call them by name or make familiar sounds that assure them of their safety.
Check in the Neighborhood
Once you’ve confirmed that the dog is not anywhere inside your home, you should expand your search to the neighborhood. Unlike humans, dogs can cross artificial boundaries and small entrances into your neighbor’s yard that you would not otherwise access.
Ask your neighbors if they’ve seen your dog in their yards or anywhere around their home. You should also ask their permission to search through their yard because some reserved neighbors may accuse you of trespassing into their property and even call the police on you.
You should intensify your search to the neighboring parks, schools, churches, etc. where people frequent most of the time. It is possible that the dog may have wandered in and were unable to trace their way back home.
Report to the local police
You have searched everywhere in the house, in the garage, and in the neighborhood, and still nothing! It’s heartbreaking, not knowing what to do next. Immediately report the disappearance or theft with the local police.
The sooner you make a report with the police, the sooner the police can get down to work to help you recover your pet. The police will create a record of the report, and this will make it easier to claim the dog if somebody notifies the police of a lost-and-found dog.
When making a report with the police, you should have important information about your pet beforehand to make it easy for the police to create a record. Provide the police with information about the dog’s name, breed, identifiable marks, age, sex, etc.
If a dog has a microchip, the police would usually post the microchip’s serial number on the national database to make matches with any lost-and-found pets countrywide. The police will also ask for a brief description of the dog for unique features distinct from other pets.
Call the microchip company
If your dog is micro-chipped, you should immediately call the microchip company to inform that your dog went missing. You should be ready to provide details about when the dog went missing such as the last known location and time.
Be sure to update your contact information so that if your pet is found, you can easily be reached by the company, police, or well-wishers. Microchip companies have reunited thousands of pet parents with their lost pets, and you should call them as soon as your pet goes missing.
Alternatives to microchips could be QR code ID tags and GPS trackers, which you can use to make it easy to locate your pet if they ever go missing.
Check where lost pets go
If your dog is not micro-chipped and is not wearing a QR code ID tag, you should try looking at the possible areas where lost pets would be taken. Think about the nearest animal shelter or local veterinary clinic.
Get an updated picture of your pet and visit the nearest animal shelter or pet clinic, and see if your pet was recovered and brought to the center. While you may be anxious about finding your lost dog, try being patient with the staff at these places since they may be under pressure from other pet parents looking for lost dogs or cats.
If you cannot find your dog in these places, don’t give up. Leave the latest picture of your pet, a short description of the pet, and your contact information, so that if the lost pet is brought at the center, they can call you to go and ascertain if it’s the pet you are looking for.
Check Local Pet Emergency Hospital
If your search has not been successful yet, you should try checking at the local pet emergency hospitals to see if your pet is admitted there. Again, you should have an updated picture of the pet that you can show to the staff at the hospital.
Veterinary emergency hospitals regularly provide medical care to injured pets that are collected by well-wishers and brought to the hospital. If the lost dog got into a fight with other dogs or was involved in an accident, you should visit these clinics to see if the pet is undergoing care in these local centers.
If you can’t find your pet within the hospital, you should leave some information about your pet such as “a missing dog poster” and your contact information, so that they can reach you if anything new comes up.
Social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram play a key role in reuniting families with their lost pets. In fact, as you scroll down the news feed, you will most likely see a post or ad about a recovered pet looking to be reunited with her family.
Create a poster that includes the latest picture of your pet, the breed, name, color, unique marks, sex, date lost, last known location, and your phone number. You can use a variety of free photos editing tools like Canva to design the poster.
Share the lost pet poster with your social media friends and let them share the poster in their networks as well. Apart from Facebook and Instagram, you can also post the picture on Craigslist and the Lost and Found Pet Sub-Reddit on Reddit.