“I just left him for two seconds”
“He was at that post”
“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 goes missing 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.
Approximately two million dogs and cats go missing each year in the United States, and an estimated 31% increase in cases of pet theft in recent years.
According to the FBI, certain dog breeds have a higher risk of attracting dognappers 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 on high demand from backstreet breeders in return for cash since these dog breeds are rare to find or are costly to buy.
Prize-winning dogs can also attract dognappers 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 under custody for stealing an award-winning French bulldog valued at $80, 000, with the intention of selling.
Aggressive dogs such as Pit Bulls, German Shepherd Dogs, and American Stafford shire Terriers may also attract dognapping for resale to dog fighting rings. These dogs are fierce fighters and can also act as bait dogs. These practices are an abuse to animals and are illegal in most countries.
Cases of disgruntled neighbors and angry lovers have also come up as one of the reasons why pets can go missing. 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 goes missing at home, you should spring into action immediately to increase your chances of finding her. Any second getting 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 feeling threatened, dogs tend to hide in a dark corner where they are sure 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 are sure 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 has a micro-chip, 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 they find your pet, the police, the company, or well-wishers can easily reach you. . Microchip companies reunite 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 doesn't have a micro-chip and is not wearing a QR code ID tag either, you should try looking at the possible areas where lost pets gets refuge around your locality. Think about the nearest animal shelter or local veterinary clinic.
Get a recent picture of your pet and visit the nearest animal shelter or pet clinic, and see if your pet has found rescue in the probable centers around. 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. If the lost pet gets anywhere near these centers, you are sure they will get help and you are notified immediately. 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 rescued at the verge of death by well-wishers and brought to the hospital. If the lost dog got into a fight with other dogs or has involvement 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.