February 14th is Pet Theft Awareness day, and it’s a perfect time to go over tips to help dog lovers keep their pups safe. Everyone should follow some basic safety precautions to protect their pooches from one of dog parents’ biggest fears — dognappers.
Thieves know that it can be profitable to steal dogs and sell them online or run scams, and you need to make sure it doesn’t happen to your pup. Some dog thieves go so far as to disguise themselves as fake animal control officers. It’s up to you to keep your dog safe.
Here are nine tips that you should follow to protect your dog from dognappers.
Spay Or Neuter Your Dog
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Dognappers are usually on the lookout for dogs who haven't been spayed or neutered because they can be sold for a high price to puppy mills or backyard breeders where they'll spend the rest of their days in cages breeding puppies, who are then sold to pet stores or online for profit.
There are many benefits to having your dog spayed or neutered, and removing temptation from thieves looking to make a buck is definitely one of them.
Microchip Your Dog
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Any dog brought to a shelter, vet, or government facility like a police station under suspicious circumstances gets checked for a microchip.
Collar ID tags can fall off or get removed, but a microchip will make your dog fairly easy to identify for anyone who checks.
Some pet parents even tattoo identification on their dogs so that it can't be removed.
Don't Leave Your Pup Outside Unattended
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This rule doesn't just apply to tying your dog up outside of a store while you quickly run in. It also applies to your backyard.
Thieves often prowl at night in the dark, but plenty of dogs have also been taken in broad daylight. You need to make sure you're keeping an eye on your dog when they're outside.
A Fence Helps, But It's Not Perfect
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A fence that blocks outsiders' view of your dog is a good step in defending them from the eyes of dognappers, but it's not a perfect solution. Thieves can easily hop a fence or just open the gate if it is unlocked, as many are.
Make sure you're still keeping an eye on your dog every time they go outside. If you have a "Beware of Dog" sign on your fence, just know that this clues dognappers in to the fact that there is a potential target behind your gate.
Don't Leave Your Dog In The Car
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If you like to bring your pup along for a car ride while you run into a store, hold off on that ride until you can go somewhere that your dog is welcome.
Do not leave your dog in the car. Not only does it get hot in cars very quickly, putting your dog's safety at risk, but it allows dognappers a perfect view of your pup with no one around to stop them. If you leave the window open a crack thinking you'll give your dog fresh air, you've made it one step easier for a dognapper.
Leave your pup at home and take them for a car ride to the dog park later.
Be Wary Of Strangers Who Ask For Too Many Details
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All dog parents like to talk about their pups, but be careful around strangers who start asking you questions about how much you paid for the dog, if they're a purebred, if they're spayed or neutered, and details about your exact address.
Meeting new people is great, but these questions should be red flags for you, and it's best to just move on.
Report Any Suspicious Cars Or People
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Always keep an eye out for cars or trucks that linger a little too long around houses in your neighborhood that have dogs, and watch out for people who you haven't seen in your neighborhood before.
Dognappers in Illinois posed as animal control officers and drove around in a white van stealing dogs not too long ago. Don't let this happen to you.
If you have suspicions, you should call authorities. If those people are supposed to be there, the police can find out and get to the bottom of it.
Adopt, Don't Shop, Especially Through Online Ads
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One of the main reasons dognappers exist is because what they do is profitable. By buying dogs online through non-reputable sites, you could very well be supporting a dognapper, which means you'll be keeping them in business, and they might come for your dog next.
Adopt from a real shelter or rescue group and never from someone asking for a large sum of money or a "re-homing fee."
Be Extra Cautious With Purebred Dogs
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In addition to dogs that haven't been spayed or neutered, thieves can get way more cash for a purebred dog than a mixed breed dog.
Purebreds are more popular, especially among people who would pay good money to own a dog instead of adopting one. If you have a purebred dog, you need to be extra vigilant.
What other tips do you have for people who want to protect their dogs from dognappers? Will you help spread the word on February 14th for Pet Theft Awareness Day? Let us know in the comments below!