I have been a full time pet detective for over 10 years since 2009 covering all of California. This blog covers all aspects of preventing a pet from becoming lost and what to do if your pet becomes lost.

Feel free to call or text me at 510/415-6185 or email me at jackie@thesocialpet.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Chessie as a Puppy in Oakland, 1985

Chessie as a Puppy in Oakland, 1985

Friday, March 10, 2023

Preventing your Pet From Being Stolen

Preventing your Pet From Being Stolen

Follow these simple rules to keep your pet safe.

DON’T leave companion animals unattended in your yard. It only takes a minute for someone to steal your pet.
DON’T allow your pet to be visible from the street.
DON’T leave your dog tied up outside restaurants or stores.
DON’T leave any animal unattended in your car, even if it is “just for a minute.”
DON’T use “free to good home” ads to place companion animals. These ads are often answered by Class “B” dealers. Contact a rescue group for assistance in conducting your own adoption.
DO spay and neuter your companion animals. This reduces your animal’s desire to stray and reduces the risk of your companion animal being stolen for breeding purposes.

DO provide your companion animals with collars, ID tags, and licenses. Speak with your veterinarian about backup forms of identifications, including tattooing and microchipping.

DO keep recent photos and written descriptions of your companion animals on hand at all times.

DO keep dogs and cats indoors, especially when you’re not home.

DO know where your animals are at all times. Treat your companion animals as you would a small child.

DO educate family, friends, and neighbors about pet theft

If you must leave your pet in a car, make sure vehicles are securely locked. I would not take your dogs out of the car for other people to see when you are at the spot of where the car is parked. This allows other people to see that animals are in the car. For example, if you must do a bathroom break, then drive to a separate location from where the car is parked and then bring the car back if that is needed. 

If you can completely avoid bringing your dog in a car, then I would for several reasons. First, it may be hard to find shade, and the outside temperature, even in the shade and windows down a bit, may be way too hot for the dog to be in the car. 

Second, you may draw attention to potential thieves. All dogs are possible victims to theft, Please don’t think that because your dog is not within the average and most common breeds stolen like small and cute and friendly dogs; or trendy breeds like Yorkies, Maltese or mixes of these; or other popular breeds like husky or pit bulls.

Many pets, more often dogs, get stolen directly out of their own yards. This would include both back and front yards. Your pet’s chances of being stolen from your yard increase if your pet is in the yard on some find of routine. This allows people who may be monitoring your yard to know exactly when your pet is in the yard and for how long. If your pet is in the yard, I would suggest being in the yard with them. 

Many children get abducted from their own yards because they are left unattended for long periods of time. (check on statistics). If you see your pet like a child, then many people would think twice about leaving their pets unattended in their yards. 

Your pet’s chance of being stolen from their yard increases if your home is on a well traveled road. This enables people to see your pet regularly and start to figure out their routine and if your pet is left unattended. The potential thieves may also try to see if your pet is friendly or not, and this can give them the chance to check out your fencing and lighting and any security measure you may have installed in your yard like motion sensor lifting or cameras.

Properly Identifying Your Pet
A good dog collar with an ID tag is the first line of defense against pet theft; however, a collar can break or be pulled off. In addition to a collar, dogs should have permanent identification. Microchipping and/or tattooing your pet are excellent ways to ensure their safety.

Additionally, if your pet ends up at a research or medical facility, the researchers are required by law to look for any tattoos, and, if one is found, they must trace the pet back to the owner.

A microchip is a permanent radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip implanted under the animal’s skin and read by a chip scanner or wand. Implantation is done with an injector that places the chip under the loose skin over the animal’s shoulder.
The advantages are obvious -- the process is quick and no more painful than a vaccination, the number is unique and the owners name and address are available on regional or national data bases so a dog can be returned quickly and safely.

The chip identification number is stored in a tiny transponder that can be read through the animal's skin by a scanner emitting low-frequency radio waves. The frequency is picked up by a tiny antenna in the transponder, and the number is retrieved, decoded and displayed in the scanner readout window.

There are two major companies that produce and register microchips: HomeAgain and AVID. For more information on microchipping, visit www.HomeAgainID.com and www.AvidMicrochip.com.

Tattooing your cat and dog is another great and permanent way to protect them if they ever get lost. Tattooing dogs and cats has been done routinely since the sixties and is a relatively painless procedure.

Vibrator tattoos used with dogs are similar to those used to tattoo humans. Tattoo inks or pastes contain insoluble pigments that will not react with blood or tissues. Black ink is commonly used on light-skinned animals. Green ink is visible on both light and dark skin.

The ear of the animal is not a satisfactory place for a tattoo as the ear can be cut off to remove the tattoo. A better place to tattoo the animal is on the flank.

A tattoo must be registered with a tattoo registry. Each registry has its own coding system and its own fee schedule. Your veterinarian, local breed clubs, humane societies and animal shelters can give you information about these registries.

For more information on tattooing your pet and to view video of the actual procedure, visit www.tattoo-a-pet.com.
Spaying and Neutering Your Pet
Spaying or neutering your animal might actually help keep her out of a research lab. Animals that aren’t spayed or neutered often stray from home when looking to mate. Many strays end up in pounds or shelters, which, depending on the state laws, might in turn sell the animal to a research lab through a practice called “pound seizure.” 

About Pet Theft
The USDA and Class "B" Dealers
The United States Department of Agriculture licenses animal dealers; anyone selling animals to laboratories (or selling more than 24 dogs or cats per year at the wholesale level) must be licensed. Class "A" dealers maintain their own breeding colonies while Class "B" dealers obtain animals from "random sources." For a $10 fee, anyone can apply for a USDA Class "B" dealer license. The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) inspectors are responsible for making certain that the dealer's records are current and complete, and for ensuring the health and safety of the animals. Unfortunately, the USDA has not made the latter a priority, for there is a shortage of inspectors and enforcement of existing regulations is weak. Consequently, many of the people involved in the sale of stolen animals are licensed by the federal government.

Where do "Random Source" Animals Come From?
Many are stolen from backyards, others are obtained through "free to good home" ads. "B" dealers prey on these unsuspecting people who can no longer care for their companions. "Bunchers" acquire animals for free by making fraudulent promises of a good home and tender care, then sell the animals, sometimes the same day, to Class "B" dealers. Most will be sold to research facilities, many of which are funded by tax dollars. Researchers prefer to experiment on pets and other animals that have lived with people because they tend to be docile, accustomed to people and easy to handle.

Investigations of Class "B" Dealers Have Revealed:
> Live dogs in cages with dead dogs
> Dogs suffering from mange, parovirus, distemper and rectal bleeding
> Inadequate veterinary care to the point of negligence
> Moldy food and frozen water
> Animals beaten and strangled
> Dogs shot
> Open burial pits containing several dog carcasses in various states of decay
> Large dogs in cages with small dogs and female dogs in cages with male dogs, both violations of the Animal Welfare Act
LCA Busts Largest and Most Notorious "B" Dealer
In 2002, Last Chance for Animals sent an undercover investigator into Martin Creek Kennels, a facility run by Class "B" dealer C.C. Baird. As a result of LCA’s undercover investigation, in March 2004, the USDA/APHIS filed a 108-page complaint against Baird, consisting of hundreds of violations of the Animal Welfare Act. In 2006, he was subsequently charged with felony mail fraud and was put out of business -- PERMANENTLY. You can read more about the C.C. Baird case here.
Debuting in 2006 and airing frequently on HBO, Dealing Dogs has educated millions of people about the danger of pet theft and even spurred two U.S. Representatives to introduce vital legislation (The Pet Safety and Protection Act) in the House to combat the problem of pet theft. Dealing Dogs will be used again in 2007 to help introduce and finally pass the Pet Safety and Protection Act through the new congress.

Dealing Dogs is now available to rent through many major rental houses, including Netflix and Blockbuster, and is available for purchase through Last Chance for Animals here.

What is "Pound Seizure?"
Pound seizure, in which animals who arrive at the pound are turned over to laboratories for experimentation on demand if they are not reclaimed by their guardian or adopted out, is still in effect in some animal shelters. Some pounds therefore must sell (or choose to sell) animals to Class "B" dealers or research facilities. Read more about pound seizure here

Safer Pets, United Kingdom

Stolen Pets

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