Pet Theft on the Rise in the US
For many of us our pets are as much a part of the family as any person in the household. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that about 62% of households in the U.S. have pets, with about 78.2 million households owning dogs and 86.4 million owning cats.
Unfortunately, however, burglars are now adding family pets to their list of targeted items. Although this is not a new phenomenon the frequency of pet theft, and in particular dog theft, is on the rise as the economy fluctuates and the prospects of profiting from stealing a pet becomes more lucrative. Thieves are stealing domestic pets for a number of reasons – for profits, breeding, illegal fights and even reward money. Disturbingly there have been frequent reports of incidents where thieves steal animals, wait for a sizable reward to be posted, then collect the money from their unwittingly gracious guardians.
The American Kennel Club, which has been tracking pet thefts since 2007, reported a 32% increase in dog thefts last year. The most common victims of such theft are purebred dogs, which can fetch thousands of dollars on the black market with little effort from or expense to the dog napper. Smaller breeds such as Yorkies and Pomeranians are the most likely dogs to be stolen as because of their tiny size, they’re easier to snatch and hide High Risk breeds for cats include Burmese, Siamese, Persian and Maine Coon. Exotic pets such as birds like Cockotoos and Macaws as well as reptiles, primates and tropical fish are extremely valuable and can be worth thousands of dollars. The huge profits that can be gained from the resale of such animals make them a key target for professional burglars.
Although many thieves focus on stealing pets left in cars or tied up outside stores, there are an increasing number of dogs, and other pets, being snatched from backyards during burglaries and home invasions. Many people believe that because they own a dog, this will serve as a sufficient method of security in itself. Of course having a pet, in particular a dog, is a great form of security as their presence can often scare an intruder off and they can notify the owner that something is not right. Unfortunately, however, some ruthless burglars will actually hurt or even kill dogs because they feel they are a threat to them gaining entry.
Netwatch advises pet owners to take caution when it comes to caring for their furry friends. It’s bad enough worrying about losing your cash, jewelry, or electronics to a burglar, without adding a treasured pet to this list of potential target items.
- Secure your yard with high fences and gates that lock; and if your pet spends time outside keep an eye on it, especially if it is out front.
- It is important to keep your pet indoors when you are not at home.
- Keep clear photographic records of your pets
- Properly identify your cats and dogs. Make sure to keep an up-to-date ID tag and license on the pet’s collar, so he can quickly be reunited with you if he is lost.
- It may be worth microchiping your pets. If your pet does happen to get taken, or even if it wanders off by itself, you will increase your chances of having it returned safely.
- Be cautious about the information you give out about your pets – for instance if you are approached by a stranger admiring your dog while out on a walk never give away any details about how much the dog cost or where you live.