It does not matter if your dog got lost or stolen, when it happens it is a most horrific incident that makes the whole family experience stress, grief and sometimes even guilt. Not to mention the little people in a family who often do not quite understand what is going on, other than their beloved pet being not being there. Dognapping is on the rise and it is for all sorts of reasons from wanting to return them for a fee, to using them on puppy farms and in dog fights. It is estimated around 2 million dogs are stolen each year with over 90% never being recovered.
Our expert panel came up with a list of things to do to make sure your pet does not get lost or stolen, and what to do that can help if it ever happens.
Shortcut To Useful Tips
Don’t leave your dog unattended outside your yard.
When you have to leave your home, lock your dogs up indoors if possible. If they are left outside with nobody home they are wide open targets for getting stolen.
Don’t let your dog off the leash
When out walking, keep your canine on a leash at all times. If you want to give them a little bit of freedom, invest in a good quality, long retractable lead. They come in various lengths. You should never let your dog roam the neighbourhood without supervision. Apart from being stolen they will annoy neighbours with fouling and there is always the risk of a dog fight that you will be liable for damages.
Get a properly fitting collar
Make sure your dog has a strong and secure collar. A collar that is too loose will let your dog pull his or her head out of it and run off if they get overly excited. Not all dogs are obedient enough to come back when called. Try to buy as good a quality collar as you can afford. You will need it to attach your pet tag as well as your lead to. You can also get a collar that is not very common, which will also help people to identify your dog.
Secure your yard.
When you are taking your dogs outdoors at home, make sure the gate is closed and pad locked even when they are outdoors at home. Make sure your pets are safely confined by having your property fenced-in. If that is not an option, big runs are available from reputable pet service providers and they can be gotten in large enough sizes that your dog can comfortably self exercise in them. Even at that, you should make sure there are some family supervision to keep an eye on them whilst outside. Try not to have your dogs visible from the street where they can be watched by strangers.
Spay and neuter your animal if you are not intending on breeding with them. Sterilization neutralises the hormones that drives them to look for mates and if that instinct is removed, they are more likely to stay home and not to wander.
Don’t leave your dog unattended.
Never leave your dog in the car alone whilst going into the shop. Apart from the risk of heat stroke in the summer even when you leave the window open, your dog is an open invitation for a thief. The other thing never to do, is to leave your dog tied up outside a shop. You cannot do this with an aggressive dog because of public liability, so it is assumed a dog left unattended outside a shop is friendly enough that anyone can touch him or her. They are a sitting target for any dog napper.
Make sure you microchip your dog as soon as you can. Double check that you have registered the correct information in the databank that the microchip is registered to.
- Pet Tag
Your dog should also have a tag on their collar with their name and your contact number on it. Some people, however, do not like to put their dog’s name on the tag, saying that it will give a stranger more control. You can read more about pet tags in our article on dog identification.
Try and keep up to date photos of your dog. Make sure to photograph any distinctive markings and spots that can help identify your dog.
What To Do If Your Pet got Lost Or Stolen?
- Call the officials
- Call the police officer who will log your missing/stolen report. If someone finds your dog, they may call there to report a found dog.
- Notify the local pound. Most of the time a lost dog ends up in the pound.
- Notify your local veterinarian as well as the groomers, they usually have an ear on the ground.
- You can also notify animal shelters and rescue centers, boarding kennels, and other pet care professionals.
- Act quickly.
The longer you wait, the further away your dog may go. So the sooner you begin your search, the greater your chances of locating them again.
- Canvass the neighbourhood.
Begin looking for your dog by circling around your block, then gradually widen your circle. Make sure you check all the local parks and any of your dog’s favourite places that he would visit with you when out walking.
- Distribute flyers.
Make a flyer with your dog’s picture on. Mark it clearly with a LOST DOG and REWARD OFFERED if you wish.
- Keep your phone charged.
Make sure the phones with the numbers that you have put on your dogs pet tag as well as the number that you have put on the flyers stays on in case someone does find your dog and try to contact you.
These flyers can be put up just about anywhere you can think of. Just be careful that you don’t get in trouble with the litter warden. You can also hand them out.
- Other media
Newspapers often have lost and found sections. You can place an ad in your local paper. A very good source is face book. Nearly everyone is on social media and even dog shelters and animal rescues have face book pages. Post on as many pages and tag all your friends. Put up pictures of your dog with bold words of missing written over it.