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A Seminole, FL Veterinarian Answers FAQs on Pet Theft

February 01, 2024

It’s Pet Theft Awareness Month! Pet theft is a disturbing crime that occurs far too often in our society. Heartless criminals target innocent animals, stealing them from their loving homes and causing immense distress to both the pets and their owners. This despicable act not only robs families of their beloved companions but also puts the stolen pets at risk of abuse, neglect, and even death. It is important for pet owners to take precautions to protect their furry friends. A local Seminole, FL vet offers some insight on that below.


How Can I Protect My Pet From Thieves?


While unfortunately there is no way to completely safeguard your pet, there are some things you can do to reduce the chances.


Spaying and neutering is at the top of the list here. Sadly, many people steal pets to feed puppy mills. Despite the crackdowns on puppy mills in many places, they still exist. Another benefit of getting your pet fixed is that intact dogs and cats are more likely to run away in search of love.


It’s also important to microchip your pet. Microchips have helped reconnect thousands—perhaps millions—of lost or stolen pets with their worried owners, sometimes years after they went missing. Be sure to keep your information current in the chip manufacturer’s registry. If your contact information is outdated or missing, that chip will be useless. (Tip: You can try to check your records using the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool here.) 


ID tags may be small, but they can also help. If your pet slips away, these are the best way for someone to contact you if they find your pet. Make sure the chip also includes the term “reward”.


GPS tags/collars are a newer invention, but they are certainly useful. While they can be cut off, they can sometimes provide enough information to provide a solid lead.


Most pet thefts occur when the pet is left alone. Fluffy will be safest indoors: this will protect her from thieves as well as other hazards, such as cars and weather.


Fido of course needs to go out. When going on walks with your dog, keep him leashed at all times. Do you have a fenced yard? These are great, but they can leave pets vulnerable. A low fence that backs up to a busy sidewalk won’t offer much protection in and of itself. You may want to consider adding extra security measures. Thick shrubs can help, by creating a barrier that people are unable to cross. A doorbell camera may not stop thieves, but may help identify them. 


Finally, we recommend you just pay attention to what is going on in your neighborhood. For example, if you notice a car slowly driving by as Fido is playing outside, take note.


How Many Pets Are Stolen Each Year?


Two million dogs are stolen each year in the U.S. That’s a pretty heartbreaking—and staggering—statistic. Unfortunately, only about one in ten pups are returned to their humans. 


What Pets Are Stolen The Most?


All pets are at risk in this area, although certain types of animals are more vulnerable. The perpetrators of pet theft are driven by greed, seeking to profit off of these helpless creatures by selling them on the black market or using them for illegal activities such as dog fighting. The vast majority of pets that are stolen are taken by ‘flippers’ who want to resell them for a profit. This is appealing to thieves, because they don’t have to put much effort into it.


Purebred dogs are most likely to be stolen. French Bulldogs are very popular with thieves, because they’re not only quite expensive, but small enough to be carried off easily. Doodle dogs, such as Labradoodles, are also attractive to thieves.


The following are the most stolen dog breeds:


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

For more information, contact your Seminole, FL veterinarian.


What Do I Do If My Pet Has Been Stolen?


Having your pet stolen can be frightening and traumatic. We hope this never happens to any of you! Unfortunately, it is a very real possibility. 


The first thing you’d want to do is contact the police. Provide any information you have, such as video or a description. Be sure to get your case number. 


Next, you’ll want to make a flyer. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate: the key is to provide as much information as possible about your pet. Some of the things to include are your pet’s age, sex, size, color, any markings they have, collar or harness color, and their last known location. Breed is also important. Be sure to include photos. These should be from a few different angles.


Offering a reward can make a big difference. The promise of money can go a long way as far as encouraging people to return pets. You can also offer a reward for information, though you’ll want to consult with your local police department first.


Another thing that may help? Tugging at people’s heart strings. People may be more inclined to return pets if you mention how much you love and miss your pet. If your furry pal has a medical issue, or was rescued, make sure to mention that as well.


Send the flyer everywhere. Post it on your social media pages, find lost/missing pet groups for your city, county, state, and area, and send it to veterinary clinics, shelters, rescues. You can also post it on local bulletin boards and dog parks, and submit it to community newsletters.


If you think you know who stole your pet, contact the police instead of approaching them yourself. Trying to approach a thief could go wrong in a variety of ways, and could be extremely dangerous. As a result, your pet is more likely to be taken somewhere else—and out of reach—right away, reducing the chance of them being recovered.


How Do I Search For A Stolen Pet?


In addition to making the flyer and contacting authorities, you can also search your area. Walk around and call your pet’s name, in case they answer. Check empty properties and wooded areas, in case they escaped.


Watch local markets, such as those on Facebook and Craigslist. You might also post a classified ad about your missing pet. Thieves sometimes steal pets just to resell them quickly, so an ad may pop up quickly.  Finally, check local shelters and rescues. We’d suggest going to all that are within an hour’s drive.


What Are Some Ways To Fight Pet Theft?


Small things can make a big difference here. If you have the time, you can look at lost and found ads to see if any of them match. Spreading awareness also helps. If you are looking for a new pet, be cautious about who you deal with. Always ask for proof of ownership. Last but certainly not least, you can also help by supporting legislation that cracks down on pet theft.


In Conclusion: Although pet theft is on the rise, there are ways to protect your pet from theft, including making sure they are fixed, microchipped, and wearing proper ID tags.


Is your pet due for an exam? Do you have questions about microchipping and/or spay or neuter surgery? Please contact us, your Seminole, FL pet hospital, anytime. 


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