Preventing Pet Theft

A grey dog looking over a fencePet theft may not be something that we think of often. After all, what kind of a person would steal someone’s beloved cat or dog? Unfortunately, this does happen. In fact, Petfinder estimates that over 2 million pets are stolen every year in the United States alone.

February 14th is Pet Theft Awareness Day, and your friends at Berkeley Veterinary Center wanted to spend some time talking about pet theft prevention to reduce the risk of this tragedy ever happening to your precious four-legged friend.

Keeping Your Pet Safe

The most common reason for pet theft is that thieves can sell a pet to a breeder, pet store, laboratory that tests on animals, or for fighting, such as with pit bulls. Breeds that are rare and expensive also top the list of stolen pets.

Becoming aware of the risks, as well as keeping a close eye on your pet, can be good ways to prevent theft. This means, never leaving your pet alone or tied up, even if for only a few minutes.

One of the best ways to safeguard against pet theft is to make sure your pet can be identified. There are several ways to do this, either alone or in combination:

Collar and tags – A collar and identification tags are easy to obtain and inexpensive. While this combo is a must for all pet owners, the reality is that they can easily be removed or lost, and sometimes tags don’t always give up-to-date information (so check your pet’s tags!).

MicrochippingMicrochipping is your pet’s best chance of being reunited with you, whether they are lost or stolen. A microchip is a rice-sized device that is inserted under the skin, during a virtually painless office procedure, similar to a vaccine. The device emits a radio signal (with information for contacting the manufacturer) when a scanner is passed over the part of your pet’s body where the device is located.

Microchips are permanent identification that cannot be removed or lost. However, a microchip must be registered with your information (and updated if you move) before it becomes useful.

Tattoo – A tattoo is a visible identifying mark that is permanent. Most tattoos require general anesthesia for a pet to remain still and cooperative for long periods of time, and to reduce pain.

Tattoos, like microchips, need to be registered to be effective. Since many people don’t know how or where to register them, or how to contact the registry if the pet is found, it may not be as effective as the microchip.

Other Ideas for Pet Theft Awareness

Report suspicious activity – Make sure to report any suspicious activity that may harm your pet or other pets. Get to know your neighbors, too, so you know what is normal in terms of who might be handling or walking their pets.

Keep a few current pictures on hand – Have some current pictures available to share with your community or police, should your pet go missing. For many of us, this isn’t a problem since we snap pictures of our pets almost daily! Still, check the quality of your recent pictures to ensure your pet’s face and distinguishing features are visible.

Pet theft can be a disconcerting subject, but one that is necessary in keeping your pet safe. Give us a call if you would like more ideas for pet theft prevention, or to schedule an appointment. We’re always happy to help!

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