SAFE@HOME: Dognap 101: How to protect your pet from theft
By FRANK FOURCHALK, Special to QMI Agency
Dogs are kind, loyal members of the family. Canadians love dogs: 30% of us have one. The bad news is that thousands of dogs are stolen across Canada each year by pet thieves.
It’s difficult to keep your dog under lock and key 24 hours a day. However, you can minimize the risk of theft by understanding the problem.
A dog may be stolen for a variety of reasons. Someone may have simply taken a fancy to the animal and wants a pet of her own. Or perhaps an estranged partner views the pet as his property and decides to organize a dog-napping. The theft could also be driven by puppy mills, where operators seek fresh breeding stock, or perhaps underground dogfighters on the lookout for breeds to be used in training.
Another problem is that some people will pay for purebred animals without getting the proper registration papers. With pedigree dogs costing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, a market for canine theft opens up. After all, it’s all about supply and demand.
So how can you prevent a pet thief from stealing your precious family member? To start with, make sure you spay or neuter your pet and indicate so on its collar. The experts tell us this is the best way to defend against unlawful breeders looking for purebreds.
Beware of strangers who seem overly interested in your pet. If they ask about the breeding or buying of your pet, tell them your animal has been fixed. Don’t ever talk to a stranger about your pet’s bloodline or special abilities. It’s a good idea to discreetly find out the person’s name and address, if possible, and note their licence number if they’re driving a vehicle.
Educate your neighbours about keeping an eye on suspicious activity toward animals in your neighbourhood. When at home, don’t leave your dog outside on a tethered leash for extended periods of time. Away from home, try not to leave Fido unattended in your vehicle or tied up outside a store or eatery.
If you’re able, erect a secure fence around your property that includes a gate with a double cylinder (keyed both sides) deadbolt lock. Having to scale the fence to get in and out (with the animal!) makes it difficult for a dog thief.
Why not consider buying pet insurance from a company that covers the cost of locating a missing animal? There are companies that offer $1,000 worth of advertising and reward expenses with no deductible.
If you are sure someone has stolen your pet, contact the police and make sure they take a stolen property report. Blanket your immediate area with flyers, posting them on telephone poles, in grocery stores and other retail outlets, near schools and fire stations.
Veterinary offices, shelters, pet stores and grooming shops are other great stops to make with your flyers. Don’t be shy – hand them out to postal employees, garbage workers, couriers and paper carriers.
Call your local newspaper to advise them of the theft and ask them to warn others in the neighbourhood of the crime. Do the same with local television and radio. The Internet has become a great tool for tracking down lost pets, and there are a number of free sites on which you can post images and exchange information.
Contact all breeders in the area as well as provincial and national breeding clubs. Make sure you notify local animal shelters of the theft and visit all animal control shelters in the area. And remember not to give up searching after a couple of weeks – many stolen dogs have been returned safely to their owners beyond that time.
Frank Fourchalk is a security professional with 20 years in the business. Visit his website at www.yourhomesecurity.ca