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How to avoid having your pet stolen

February 10, 2019

“The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” -Andy Rooney

Approximately 60.2 million homes in America have a dog and 47.1 million own a cat. Out of those numbers, it is estimated that around 2 million pets are stolen each year. Some of the time when people steal the pets it is because they are “rescuing” them. They look at what the owner does and wants to save them. This is actually more common than people think. It has and does happen in our community, as well. Sometimes, these pets are stolen for a profit if they are an expensive breed. This could be for resale of the animal or even keeping the animal to breed it for profit.

I have worked for Animal Control for a little over five years and have dealt with missing pets many times. Most of the time the pet just got out, ran off, and was later was found. However, there are other times where the pet has been blatantly stolen.

One such case I had a person bring a dog to me stating that she found it running at large. Luckily, the dog was microchipped. I scanned it and found the owner who lived in Rogers and they came to get their dog. Apparently, the person who turned over the dog had seen the dog running at large in Rogers and picked it up. Once in Columbus they realized that they could not keep it so they turned it over. Luckily, this ended well for the owner.

Another case involved two dogs stolen from the same owner at different times. The owner had a kennel run and left the dog in it all the time. One day the first dog vanished. The owner set up a camera system, put a topping on the kennel and even padlocked the door of the kennel. Someone still tore the top off, climbed up and over the kennel and stole the dog. Unfortunately, the video was grainy so finding the thieves proved impossible.

One other case involved a person and his or her roommate’s dog. They contacted Animal Control asking if we could take the animal as the owner was in jail. We said that it was not abandoned and we could not take it. Once the owner was freed, he or she contacted Animal Control advising that his or her dog was missing. We contacted the roommate who said the dog was in the backyard and disappeared. This might seem like a plausible answer if the dog was something small but this dog was a pure blood Great Dane. Those dogs are not easy to misplace. Again, no happy ending for this pet owner.

There are ways to attempt to prevent your pet from being stolen.

Make sure your pet is microchipped and your contact info is up to date. Though this does not prevent the theft, it can help in identifying the animal to get it back home to you.

Never leave your pet unattended in public places. I know there was a time that I found dogs tied to a fence because the kid that was walking it went playing in the park and just left the dog tied up.

Along this line, do not take your pet shopping and leave them in your car. It has yet to happen here but even in towns like Omaha, people have been known to break car windows out and take the pet.

Get your pet spayed or neutered. This will eliminate the want to breed your pet for profit.

If your pet is missing, first contact Animal Control and if we are not open, the Police Department will take the missing animal report. This way if we do find your pet at large we can just return it to you. However, if you suspect that someone might have stolen the pet contacting us will get things started in hopefully the safe return of your pet.

Other things to consider are making flyers that you can hang around town advising that your pet is missing. Besides contacting us, contact all the vet clinics and animal shelter. You could extend your search to other animal shelters in the area, also. Check Craigslist to see if people might have posted your animal for sale on there. Sweep your neighborhood and through the alleys checking each backyard. You could also contact the news media for assistance.

If you think that you found the person who took your pet, contact Animal Control or the Police Department right away. Never confront them on your own.

Shawn Flowers is lead officer for Columbus Animal Control.

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