By Alexandra Anastasio
In our daily lives, we take precautions to safeguard our most valuable possessions and protect them from being stolen. We lock our car doors, equip our homes with alarms, and create passwords to shield our personal information, yet few pet owners realize that protecting our dogs from potential theft is just as important.
Dognapping isn’t something any owner wants to think about, but it’s important to be aware and prepared. Statistics put the number of dogs stolen each year at around 2 million. In just a matter of seconds, you can become the victim of a criminal who sees your dog as a quick and easy way to make a buck.
What Is Dog Flipping?
Dog flipping occurs when someone takes dogs away from their owners’ homes or offices, claims to be a lost dog’s owner, or gets a dog from a shelter with the intention of reselling the pup for a quick profit. It’s a terrible experience for a dog that’s been separated from his home and the owners who are heartbroken over the loss of their beloved pet.
What Types of Dogs Are Stolen?
According to Tom Sharp, president and CEO of AKC Reunite, thefts often involve high-value dogs, for example Bulldogs and French Bulldogs, and smaller breeds such as Chihuahuas and Yorkshire Terriers. “These types of dogs are easy to grab and run with,” he says.
How Can a Thief Steal Your Dog?
Stealing a dog is easier than most people realize. A variety of scenarios that seem harmless may, in fact, be putting your canine companion at risk.
If you’re one of those people who like to take her dog along on errands, consider leaving him at home if he can’t be by your side the entire time. You should never leave your dog alone in the car. A couple of minutes can make all the difference, and a determined thief will have no problem smashing your windows to get to your pup.
In some areas, it’s not uncommon to see a dog tied up outside a storefront. Leaving your canine companion unattended, even for a moment, makes him vulnerable to thieves, especially if he’s the friendly type.
A lot of dogs love being outside, but if your backyard is accessible or visible to strangers, you should keep a close eye on your pup. Dognappers will use whatever tricks they can to lure your precious pet away from your home.
Even when you and your dog are out for a walk, there is still a potential for danger. Some dogs are extremely well behaved off leash, but that doesn’t mean they should have free rein of the neighborhood. Think of the leash as a safety net that keeps your dog close by your side. Without it, there’s no guarantee he won’t be led astray from you.
Ways to Safeguard Your Dog
The danger to your dog is real, but there are ways to stay a step ahead of would-be thieves. First and foremost, make sure your dog is microchipped and that the contact information on file is up to date.
“A standard veterinary procedure would be to check for a microchip in a newly adopted pet and then discuss with the new owner how to transfer that chip to them,” says Sharp. This process has led to the recovery of stolen dogs.
Another important safety tip is to stay tight-lipped about where you live, places you frequent with your pup, or even how much you paid for him. Remember, thieves look for high-value dogs.
If your dog is stolen, immediately report the theft to police, call your microchip company and any lost-dog or stolen-dog databases that you know of in your area, including local shelters. You should also distribute fliers and get the word out on social media.
Knowing the different scenarios in which thieves can prey upon your dog will allow you to safeguard your best friend from potential danger.