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In our previous posts, we suggested tips on how to find a lost dog and we also curated a list of the most commonly stolen dog breeds. How to Prevent Pet Theft? Let's get to it.

In this week’s post, we asked pet parents to suggest ways on how to prevent pet theft, and how they've managed to keep their fur-balls safe from pet burglars, whether at home or when running errands alongside their pets.

Because, let’s face it, you can’t tell when a pet burglar will strike, and the best thing is to take caution before it actually happens. We received various tips on how you can keep your dog or cat safe at all times, even if you are away or need to run some quick errands.

How to Prevent Pet Theft

1. Never leave your pet unattended

Always treat your pet, as you would your kid.

Would you be comfortable leaving your child at a public park to run a quick errand? The answer is no. What if it is your dog you are leaving behind? For some parents, it is a no, while for others it is debatable.

As a rule, never leave your dog or cat unattended in a public space, because you do not know what will happen to them while you are away, even if it is just for 10 seconds because a thief will strike, and before you know it, your dog will be nowhere to be seen.

Always use a harness, collar and leash when walking with your pet in public, and restrain them when going into a coffee shop or grocery store, rather than leaving them at the entrance.

2. Keep pets behind closed doors

Pets are curious by nature. When left at the yard unattended, they will likely slip through the yard or small spaces into your neighbor's yards, or into the street. Most parents use invisible wireless fences to demarcate the area where pets cannot go beyond while playing.

If you are not around, it is safe to leave your pet behind closed doors. This assures you of their safety if you are not personally available to supervise their behavior. If they must be outdoors when you are away, you can hire a trusted pet sitter to look after your pet while you attend to your emergencies.

3. Have them micro-chipped

Having your pet micro-chipped acts as a precautionary measure, to make it easy to locate your pet if they ever get lost.

A pet microchip is an implanted form of identification that is the size of a grain, that is implanted between the pet’s shoulder blades beneath the skin. The microchip has a unique identification scanning number (serial number) listed in a national database alongside your contact information.

When a rescue center or a veterinary clinic recovers a lost and micro-chipped pet, the microchip confirms the identity of the pet and consequently the owner. The identification number is unique among others in the nation-wide database. This will bring up your contact information, and an alert is sent to you with details on where to collect your lost and found pet.

While some pet parents may have reservations on the safety of microchips, microchips are completely safe, and they are used to make it easy to locate your lost pet. Plus, microchips are cheap, and you can get the service done for anywhere between $30 to $50 in most vet clinics.

4. Spay or neuter your dog

Most vets recommend spaying or neutering dogs and cats due to its health benefits. Some of the key benefits include diminishing bad behavior, improving the pet’s mood as well as improving the general wellness of the pet. For example, spayed/neutered pets are less prone to testicular cancer (for males) or breast cancer (for females).

Studies have shown that uncastrated animals tend to roam more while looking for mating partners, and they may get lost on the way. Spaying/neutering your pet eliminates the need to go out and look for a mating partner, and this reduces the risk of the pet getting lost, or getting into fights with other pets.

Sterilizing your pet also makes them less desirable to pet thieves who may steal pets for breeding purposes. Pure breeds are at a higher risk of dognapping due to their high demand from backstreet breeders. Sterilizing them, therefore, makes them less attracting since they can’t bring forth off-springs.

5. Conduct background checks on pet sitters and groomers before hiring them

Sometimes, criminals may present themselves as professional pet sitters or groomers in order to get close to your dog. Hiring the wrong person to take care of your dog puts your dog at risk of dognapping or even worse.

When hiring pet sitters, walkers, and groomers, always do a background check on them to ascertain their credibility. If you hire them online, always check their ratings and reviews to verify their experience and credibility. You should ask for references or pet parents that they’ve worked with before, and call them to see how their experience was and if they can recommend them.

If you are not certain of getting credible dog sitters online, you can ask your vet to recommend professional pet sitters that they personally know or that they’ve used before. If you belong to a local community of pet owners, you can request them to give you recommendations of pet professionals that they have worked with before.

6. Beware of overly curious strangers

I have, on numerous occasions, encountered complete strangers come to me and ask some really personal information about my dog. While some strangers may mean well, some may be trying to get important information about your dog to determine if it’s a worthy target.

Some of the common questions that potential dog burglars may ask include the worth of your dog, whether it’s a pure breed, its level of intelligence, whether it's neutered/spayed, etc. Giving too much information about your dog may increase the risk of the dog going missing. Deflect questions from strangers if you suspect that they are up to no good.

7. Maintain proof of ownership document

If your dog goes missing and recovered later, the animal shelter or vet clinic may require you to provide key identification documents that prove that you are the actual owner of the pet. If you can’t provide any receipts, adoption documents or pictures, you will have a hard time proving that you are the real owner.

Always maintain a paper trail of key documents such as pet adoption documents, dog grooming receipts, veterinary clinic bills, recent photos, and other documents that demonstrate that you are the real dog owner.

If the pet gets into a dispute case between a couple, the police might forego the ownership tussle. However, if you can provide documents and receipts that demonstrate that you are the actual owner and primary caregiver, then it can be possible to prove that the case is an actual pet theft and not just a dispute.

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