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Protecting Pets from Theft


CONTACT: Roseann Trezza, Executive Director
May 6, 2008


DADDY WARBUCKS AND SAMMY, two prize-winning Corgis were among the few and lucky ones. Unlike a growing number of dogs being stolen from parked cars and private yards, these two pups were eventually returned to their owners.

Dog thefts, especially purebreds, are increasing at an alarming rate, particularly over the past few months. The American Kennel Club estimates the number of dogs reported stolen just within the first few months of 2008 almost triples the number that were reported all of last year. In addition, many pets reported by their owners as lost or ran away have actually been stolen.

There is no central agency that keeps these records, however it’s estimated that more than 12,000 dogs, mixed breeds and purebreds, are stolen in New Jersey and more than 2 million nationwide, each year.

Roseann Trezza, Executive Director of Associated Humane Societies/Popcorn Park, said dog owners are becoming more casual about leaving their pets. This is particularly the case with dog owners who have invisible fencing around their property. Although the pets will stay in the yard, there is nothing to deter a thief from entering.

These two Corgis were stolen from a parked car in New Brunswick in late March and turned in to AHS Animal Care Center in Newark by an anonymous person. They were then reunited with their owners.

It’s difficult to say exactly why the dogs are being stolen. Some are taken for the purpose of dog fighting, some are sold to animal testing laboratories, still, others are taken because of their pedigree and re-sold,” Ms. Trezza said. “Whatever the reason, pet thefts can usually be prevented by care and vigilance.”

To keep pets safe from theft, Associated Humane Societies offers these tips:

  • Don’t leave home with your dog in the backyard. Dogs left outside unattended are perfect targets, especially if the dog is visible from the street.
  • Invisible fencing will not protect your dog from theft. Underground and radio-controlled fencing is great for keeping your trained dog inside the confines of your property, but it does nothing to keep intruders away. Not only does this make your dog even more susceptible to theft, but it’s also inviting for stray dogs and other wild animals who are curious about your pet.
  • Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle, even if you’ve locked the doors. The dangers that can arise by leaving your pet in a vehicle, even for a minute or two, are many. Anyone can break into your vehicle and steal your pet, or just open the door and let the pet run free. What’s more, pets left in vehicles are subject to super hot or cold conditions that can harm or even kill them.
  • Always keep your pet on a leash.
  • Never tie your pet’s leash outside a building. Many city dogs are stolen outside shops.
  • Get your pet microchipped. Collars and tags can be removed, but a microchip – only about the size of a piece of rice – contains all identifying information about your pet, and is inserted under the dog’s skin, just near his neck and shoulder bones. Pets have been recovered when dogs have been scanned for microchips.
  • If you think your dog has been stolen, immediately notify the police and stay in contact with your nearest animal shelters. Post “lost” signs with photos of your pet throughout your area.
  • If you witness a stranger putting a neighbor's dog in a car or van, please be sure to obtain the license plate number of the vehicle and contact the owners or police.

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