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A New Orleans, LA Veterinarian Answers FAQs About Pet Theft

February 1, 2024

February is Pet Theft Awareness Month. This topic could definitely use the signal boost. Every year, over two million dogs are stolen in the United States. That’s a heartbreaking—and staggering—statistic. Unfortunately, only about one in ten of those pups are returned to their humans. While there are no ways to guarantee this won’t happen to your beloved furry pal, there are things you can do to reduce the risk. A New Orleans, LA veterinarian offers some insight below.

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

Despite the fact that you cannot guarantee that your pet won’t get lost or stolen, there are definitely things you can do to reduce the chances.

Here are the key ones:

Microchipping: Microchips have helped reunite thousands—probably millions—of lost or stolen pets with their worried humans, sometimes years after they went missing. Be sure to keep your contact information updated in the chip manufacturer’s registry. The chip will be worthless if that information is outdated or missing. For an overview of your records, check the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool here.

Tags: An ID tag is also essential. These are required by law in many places. This is the easiest way for someone who finds your pet to contact you. Make sure to include the term ‘reward’ on the tag. GPS tags/collars are a recent invention. However, while they can be cut off, they can sometimes provide enough information to lead to a solid lead.

Spaying/Neutering: Unfortunately, some people steal pets to use in puppy mills. Although the law is cracking down on puppy mills in many places, there are still plenty of them out there. There are other benefits, too. For instance, your pet will probably lose (at least some) interest in trying to escape: intact dogs and cats are much more likely to run away looking for love.

Last but not least, keep your pet secure. If you have a dog, keep Fido leashed on walks. Fenced yards are great, but your pet could be vulnerable if your place has a low fence against a busy sidewalk. Consider adding extra security measures. A doorbell camera may not stop thieves, but it could help identify them. Taller fences provide more security. Thick shrubs can provide a barrier that people cannot get over. (Note: one potential downside of invisible fences is that they don’t do much to deter pet theft. There is no barrier to the thief, who can quickly remove a pet’s collar.)

If you have a kitty, keep your feline pal safe and sound inside. Fluffy will be protected from thieves as well as from other hazards, such as cars and weather.

You can also be vigilant by simply paying attention to what is happening in your neighborhood. For example, if you notice a car slowly driving by while Fido is out in the yard, take him inside and take extra precautions.

What Can I Do To Help Stop Pet Theft?

A Good Samaritan can do a few things. When searching for a new pet, be cautious about who you interact with, and always ask for proof of ownership. If you have the time, you can browse lost and found ads to see if any match. Just be sure to contact the police, not the potential thief, if you spot anything.

What Kind Of Pets Are Stolen The Most?

It’s true that certain types of dogs and cats are more vulnerable to theft than others, although thieves may find an opportunity to steal any animal. Some pets may be used to train fighting dogs as bait, others may be sold to laboratories. However, the majority of pets that are stolen are taken by ‘flippers’ who want to resell the animal for a profit. This is an attractive option for thieves, as they don’t have to put a lot of effort into it.

Purebreds are at the highest risk. Some of the ‘designer’ dogs, such as Labradoodles, are also attractive to shady dealers, because they are both quite expensive and small enough to carry away.

The following are the most stolen dog breeds:

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

For more information, contact your New Orleans, LA veterinarian right away.

What Should I Do If Someone Steals My Pet?

It can be terrifying and traumatic to have your beloved pet stolen. However, don’t assume all hope is lost. The sooner you spring into action, the better! By acting immediately you can greatly increase the chances of recovering your pet.

If you have any evidence, such as video or a description of the thief, contact law enforcement immediately. You may also need to provide paperwork to prove ownership, such as veterinary records or adoption papers.

It’s important to be cautious here. If you know who stole your pet, contact the police instead of trying to approach them yourself. That could go wrong in a number of ways, some of which can be quite dangerous. Additionally, it can increase the chance that your pet will be taken somewhere else right away, which could make it even harder for you to retrieve him or her.

Making A Flier For A Stolen Pet

The next step is to create a flier. Make sure that it includes as much relevant information about your pet as possible.

  • Color and Markings
  • Size
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Breed (Note: Keep in mind that if your pooch isn’t a commonly-known breed, people may not make the connection by name alone.)
  • Photos are also very important. Choose ones from different angles, if possible
  • Reward. This is extremely important, as the promise of money can go a long way towards motivating people to return the pet. You can also offer a reward for information, though you’ll of course want to follow the advice of your local police department 
  • When and where your pet was last seen

Don’t be afraid to yank on people’s heartstrings. Tell them about how much your furry friend is loved and missed. If they have a medical issue and/or were rescued, mention it! A little sympathy can go a long way here. 

Once you have the flier, post it everywhere! Put it on all your personal and local social media pages, and ask friends and family to share. You can also send it to local lost/missing pet groups and pages in your city, county, state, and area, as well as veterinary clinics, shelters, rescue groups, and dog parks.

How To Search For A Stolen Pet

Next, start your search. Take a walk around your block. Call your pet’s name, in case they hear you and answer. Look for empty properties and wooded lots in case they’ve escaped and are hiding or injured. Ask neighbors to help.

Watch local marketplaces, such as those on Facebook and Craigslist. You may want to consider posting a classified ad about your missing pet. Thieves sometimes steal pets just to resell them quickly for a profit. If they’ve posted online, there’s always a chance that someone may see their ad and yours, and reach out.

Finally, check local shelters within an hour’s drive.

This may seem overwhelming, but stay hopeful. Many pets have been reunited with their humans after years apart, so don’t give up!

Summary: Sadly, millions of pets are stolen each year. While the problem continues, it is possible to protect your pet from theft by having them fixed, microchipped, and wearing the proper identification tags.

Contact us today if you have questions about pet theft or need to schedule microchipping or spay/neuter surgery. As your local New Orleans, LA animal clinic, we are here to help!