It is estimated that nearly two million pets are stolen each year.
Pet theft is more widespread than people think and it is not just confined to "bad" neighborhoods. Also, pet theft seems to be on the rise. The American Kennel Club has been tracking stolen dog reports since 2007 and notes a 31% increase in recent years.
Pet FBI has had reports of pets snatched from fenced yards, parked cars, front porches, anywhere a pet is left unattended. Occasionally we hear about people whose pets have been taken and dumped by a disgruntled neighbor or an angry spouse.
Reasons Pets Are Stolen:
Most often, there is a profit motive to pet theft.
- Someone might steal a purebred dog in the hopes of selling it to an unsuspecting individual. This is known as "flipping". Small, purebred dogs like Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, Maltese and Chihuahuas are the most common targets. Such breeds can be sold for thousands of dollars.
- A pet may be stolen for the prospect of a reward.
- If the pet is not neutered, it may be stolen for sale to a breeder or a puppy mill.
- Dog fighting rings snatch breeds that have a reputation as fighters - Pit Bulls, Boston Terriers, German Shepherds, and Boxers. Dog fighting rings also snatch cats.
- Sometimes disgruntled neighbors or family members will steal a pet or will dump it off somewhere.
- Fortunately - and this is the only good news about stolen pets - a new law effective in 2016 prohibits the sale of "randomly collected" animals to labs. "Class B dealers" are finally out of business.
If you are reading this it may be that you think your pet has been stolen. Pet FBI is not a detective agency, although there are "pet detectives". "Pet FBI" stands for Pets Found By Internet, and we maintain a database on line of lost and found pet reports. We can only offer advice and an expression of sympathy.
Advice for Recovering a Stolen Pet:
- File a police report with your local police department or sheriff's office immediately. A police report will be useful for identification purposes when retrieving your pet and could prove helpful in court if a suspect is brought to trial. If the authorities are hesitant to prepare the report, remind them that pets by law are valuable “property” and their theft is either a felony or misdemeanor under all state laws. By law, the police must take action on your complaint. Be persistent. The American Kennel Club recommends : If your dog has a microchip, ask to have that unique serial number, along with the dog's description, posted in the "stolen article" category on the National Crime Information Center.
- Follow the suggestions on our lost pet advice pages. It is possible that your pet was not stolen or that even if stolen, it broke away. Or the thief may just abandon it.
- We strongly recommend that you Post a lost report (opens new window). It is best not to mention that you think the pet was stolen. It might make the thief or an honest good Samaritan hesitant to come forth.Do not even say "No questions asked".
- Canvass the area where your pet was last seen to see if anyone observed the theft.
- When a pet is stolen, most times it is for a profit motive. Offer a reward, but better not to mention how much.
- Put up flyers in prominent places in the area where you think your pet was stolen. Presumably, the thief passes through the area and will see your flyers and may respond to the prospect of a reward.
- Contact local media outlets like newspapers, radio and television. Include a photo and provide details about your situation that are likely to arouse sympathy or relate an interesting story.
- If someone does claim to have your pet, never meet in an out of the way place; never meet alone, and do not hand over money until you have the pet in hand. If someone calls and says they have your pet but need money to send it to you - beware! This is a common scam.
- When pets are stolen to be sold for a profit, especially pure bred cats and dogs, they may be advertised. Some people have reported that they found their pet offered for sale in a classified ad. Check your local newspaper, Craigslist or Hoobly.com.
Ways to Prevent Your Pet From Being Stolen
- Never leave your pet unattended.
- Do not tie your pet up outside a restaurant or a store.
(More reasons not to do this at face4pets.org (opens new window))
- Do not leave pets in a car, even for a few minutes.
- Even if you have a fenced yard, be careful if it is visible and accessible from the street. Do not leave your pet alone for extended periods.
- When walking your dog keep it on a leash.
- Do not allow your cat to roam free. Indoor cats live longer and healthier lives.
- Have your pets spayed or neutered. Not only will they be less vulnerable to theft, they will be less likely to run off.
- Do not tell strangers that your pet is worth "big bucks".
- Be sure your pet has good ID : a collar with tags and a microchip.
Finally, do not become a party to pet theft by buying a purebred pet without papers and a verifiable source.
Keep a current photo of your pet - just in case...