Monday, November 9, 2009

Protect Your Pet From Theft

(StatePoint) America's fascination with canines knows no bounds. Just look at the late notorious hotel operator Leona Helmsley's multi-million dollar trust fund she left for "Trouble," her beloved Maltese. The inheritance not withstanding, pet theft has become an increasing problem that only now has begun to be addressed.

By following some important tips and being aware of red flags, you can keep your pet better protected from dognappers.

"It's not just about the financial value of the dog for any of these people. It's an emotional attachment that can't be replaced by getting another dog," says Lisa Peterson, a spokesperson for the American Kennel Club (AKC), who started seeing enough concern over pet theft to begin tracking the problem. "Some owners, desperate to find their beloved pets, have contacted us, wanting to know what they can do to help get their 'family' members back."

Indeed, pet theft is growing at a hearty rate, with the AKC having begun tracking and reporting such incidents over the past two years. And concern over the theft of dogs has inspired legislators to act by proposing new laws against such thefts and AKC to spread helpful advice for pet owners.

The most obvious step in addressing the issue of pet theft is prevention. By paying extra attention to your pet, the prospect of theft goes down. Simple things, like not letting your dog off its leash and not leaving it unattended in your yard or car can help avoid potentially-dangerous scenarios. Tying up your dog and leaving it unattended on the sidewalk can be particularly problematic, especially with small dogs.

In the unfortunate event that your pet is taken, there are a few methods of recovery.

By getting your dog a SpotLight collar with a GPS tracking device or by embedding a permanent microchip in your dog, retrieving and identifying a stolen pet can be made easier. There are other services available to help recover stolen pets. Sites like helpmefindmypet.com work in conjunction with the American Kennel Club Companion Animal Recovery and send e-mail alerts regarding missing pets to every shelter, vet, and animal-control agency within a 50-mile radius.

Even if your pet isn't worth millions, the sentimental value of a loyal animal can be incalculable. But unfortunately there is a market out there for stolen animals. Keeping that in mind, some short-term precautions can contribute greatly to a long-term relationship with a pet.


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