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    Pets & Their People

    Foiling Thieves Who'd Steal Your Dog

    by C. Miriam Yarden, B.Sc., MS
    Contributing Editor,

    Ms. Yarden is a practicing animal behavior specialist (Aurora Animal Behaviour) with 35 years of experience in the field and is a published author on the subject. Her "Pets & Their People/Perspective" appears exclusively on

    (August 7, 2008) -- Believe it or not, pet-theft is a highly profitable business and at an all-time high.

    Our pets are stolen for sale to research laboratories (medical and industrial) at $600-$800 per animal. Smaller pets are stolen for use to train Pit Bulls to kill (even though dog fighting is illegal).

    Some are stolen for re-sale for breeding, especially if your pet is not spayed or neutered, or for "sacrifice" in strange rituals.

    It is truly heartbreaking to have your beloved companion stolen, never to know his or her fate. There are a few simple things we can do to sabotage the thieves (amazingly, the solutions are always simple and sensible). Here they are:

    • Padlock you outside gate to prevent anyone from opening it and allowing your dog to get out. Put a sign on your gate reading, "GUARD DOG ON DUTY."

    • Know where your dog is at all times. Pet theft is on the rise, especially in nice, quiet neighborhoods where the traffic is not too busy. Pets are blatantly removed from front- and back-yards within seconds.

    • DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOG TIED TO ANYTHING OUTSIDE A STORE no matter how short a time you will be inside.

    • Do NOT leave him in your car -- it takes sixty seconds for a thief to open a locked car door.

    • Do NOT leave him in the back of a truck.

    • Do NOT leave him unsupervised in your front yard and as stated above, make sure your back yard is securely gated and padlocked.


    • Spay and neuter your pet. This reduces the attraction for a thief who wants to breed your companion.

    • Vary your dog's routine. Don't always let him out regularly at 9 a.m. for 20 minutes while you go back to bed. Keep your eyes on him either by staying with him or watching him from a door or window.

    • Beware of another kind of vicious thief -- the one who answers your ad if you must to re-home your pet. He will arrive with wife and kiddies, promise a good home and disappear. If you ask for a telephone number, it will be nonexistent and the address he gives will be a vacant lot or a gas station. Such thieves are called "bunchers." They collect stolen dogs and sell them to Class B dealers, the ones who hold dog auctions under the most horrible conditions.

    • Talk to your veterinarian about microchipping your pet. This is reasonably priced, painlessly applied and is permanent. Then register him with the national registry for a single fee for the life of the dog. This is your dog's passport home. Pounds, shelters and veterinarians routinely scan incoming animals (even those who are brought in dead) to notify you that your dog has been found. Some microchipped animals are reunited with their owners after as many as five years. Microchips are important for another reason: many of a breed look alike (Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Poodles, etc.) A microchip is incontrovertible proof that he is yours.

    • Make sure you have photographs of your pet taken in full face, both profiles and full head (to show ear-set and shape). If he has any odd or unusual makings or unique characteristics -- scars, cowlicks, kink in the tail, dental irregularities, etc., make sure you have pictures of those too.

    • Keep a record of physical features (paw prints are easy to make), a broken tooth, pigment spots on the tongue, palate and belly, odd eye colour can all be identification marks.

    • Every dog (and cat) should wear -- AT ALL TIMES -- a LICENSE TAG and an ID. Don't put his name on the tag (he may be called away by his name and he will respond), your address (they now know where you live and can be either robbed or the dog held for ransom). All you need on the tag is the word "REWARD" and a telephone number,

    • If the dog has a special condition, put on the tag also "REQUIRES CONSTANT MEDICATION."

    • Keep a record of your dog's current license and microchip umbers in an easy-to-find place.

    If you believe for one moment that the above is overstated or exaggerated, please read the book titled STOLEN FOR PROFIT by Judith Reitman (Pharos Books). You will find it on at an affordable price.

    Surely the price is worth the life and well-being of your companions!

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