/PRNewswire/ -- The American Kennel Club® continues to remind pet owners to heed warnings about an alarming rise in "dog-nappings." State houses across America have taken notice and are proposing laws to toughen penalties for those who steal pets.
Since last year, when AKC® first noted concerns about the prevalence of pet theft, more dogs are disappearing. Through November 30, 2009, the AKC has tracked more than 115 missing pets via incidents reported by news media and customer reports. In 2008, the AKC tracked a total of 71 thefts.
The FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which tracks stolen property nationwide, currently lists 200 stolen dogs, according to Steve Fischer, FBI Spokesperson. According to Fischer, "Dogs listed in our database must have permanent owner-applied serial numbers, such as those from embedded microchips. Unfortunately not all dogs have permanent ID, so we know this is only a fraction of the number of missing dogs."
"Each week I am reading about reports of pet theft from all around the country," said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. "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. 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."
Julie Austin of Idaho told Local News 8 that she was shocked when her 11-week-old puppy was stolen right out of the arms of her 5-year-old daughter while she was sitting in a public park. The Austins filed a stolen pet report with the local police. Fortunately, after they alerted the media and the police received a tip about their pet's whereabouts, their puppy was recovered living at someone else's home. The alleged thief was recently charged with a misdemeanor possession of stolen property.
As a majority of owners view their dogs as valued family members, the value of pets in people's lives is being recognized by legislators across America. Recently in New York, following the disappearance of a Siberian Husky in his Brooklyn district, New York Assemblyman Joseph Lentol vowed to introduce dog-napping legislation which would make the theft of a companion animal a felony offense with up to four years in jail depending on the circumstances.
Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in Texas which would have made it a state felony to steal a pet, including the family dog, with a possible two years in prison if convicted. California and Delaware have tried to regulate roadside pet sales as a way to combat the trafficking of stolen pets to unsuspecting consumers.
Regardless of the reason thieves are taking pets, whether to sell to unsuspecting local buyers or over the Internet or keeping them for personal use, these criminals need to know that pet owners are becoming more proactive by keeping pets close to them and also microchipping their pets ahead of time so that when these dogs turn up at shelters or veterinarian offices they can be scanned to find their rightful owners.
In response to this continuing trend, AKC offers the following advice to prevent your "best friend" from being the target of a crime. See more about pet theft on the Good Morning America Web site.
In the Neighborhood
-- Don't let your dog off-leash - Keeping your dog close to you reduces
the likelihood it will wander off and catch the attention of thieves.
-- Don't leave your dog unattended in your yard - Dogs left outdoors for
long periods of time are targets, especially if your fenced-in yard is
visible from the street.
-- Be Cautious with information - If strangers approach you to admire
your dog during walks, don't answer questions about how much the dog
cost or give details about where you live.
On the Road
-- Never leave your dog in an unattended car, even if it's locked -
Besides the obvious health risks this poses to the dog, it's also an
invitation for thieves, even if you are gone for only a moment.
Leaving expensive items in the car such as a GPS unit or laptop will
only encourage break-ins and possibly allow the dog to escape, even if
the thieves don't decide to steal it too.
-- Don't tie your dog outside a store - This popular practice among
city-dwelling dog owners can be a recipe for disaster. If you need to
go shopping, patronize only dog-friendly retailers or leave the dog at
-- Protect your dog with microchip identification - Collars and tags can
be removed so make sure you have permanent ID with a microchip.
Thieves will not know the dog has a microchip until a veterinarian or
shelter worker scans it so keep contact information current with your
microchip recovery service provider.
-- Lost Pet Alert - AKC Companion Animal Recovery is the exclusive pet
recovery service working with helpmefindMYPET.com to help owners
locate stolen or lost pets. Once you report your dog missing an e-mail
alert is sent to area vets, shelters, and animal control agencies,
within a 50-mile radius, to notify them to be on the lookout. For more
information, to enroll your pet in a 24-hour recovery service and
sign-up for the Lost Pet Alert, visit www.akccar.org.
-- If you suspect your dog has been stolen - Immediately call the police
/ animal control officer in the area your pet was last seen and file a
police report. If your dog has a microchip, ask to have that unique
serial number, along with the dog's description, posted in the "stolen
article" category on the National Crime Information Center.
-- Canvass the neighborhood - Talk to people in the immediate vicinity
where your pet went missing for possible sightings of the actual
-- Have fliers with a recent photo ready to go if your dog goes missing -
Keep several current photos (profile and headshot) of your dog in your
wallet or on an easily accessible web account so that you can
distribute immediately if your pet goes missing.
-- Contact the media - Call the local TV station, radio station and
newspaper and ask to have a web post put out about your missing pet.
DON'T BUY STOLEN PETS
-- Don't buy dogs from the Internet, flea markets, or roadside vans
-There is simply no way to verify where an animal purchased from any
of these outlets came from. Web sites and online classifieds are
easily falsified, and with roadside or flea market purchases not only
do you not know the pet's origins but you will never be able to find
or identify the seller in case of a problem.
-- Even newspaper ads may be suspect - Adult dogs offered for sale at
reduced prices, for a "relocation" fee, or accompanied by requests for
last minute shipping fees are red flags. Dog owners who truly love
their animals and are unable to keep them will opt to find a loving
home without compensation for re-homing the animal.
-- Seek out reputable breeders or rescue groups - Visit the home of the
breeder, meet the puppy's mother, and see the litter of puppies.
Developing a good relationship with the breeder will bring you peace
of mind when purchasing. Contacting breed rescue groups can also be a
safe alternative if you are looking for an adult dog.
-- Demand proper papers on your purebred puppy - Ask for the AKC Litter
Registration Number and contact AKC customer service at 919-233-9767
to verify registration authenticity of your purebred puppy.
The American Kennel Club (AKC), proudly celebrates its 125th Anniversary in 2009. Since 1884 the not-for-profit organization has maintained the largest registry of purebred dogs in the world, and today its rules govern more than 20,000 canine competitions each year. The AKC is dedicated to upholding the integrity of its registry, promoting the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and function. Along with its nearly 5,000 licensed and member clubs and its affiliated organizations, the AKC advocates for the purebred dog as a family companion, advances canine health and well-being, works to protect the rights of all dog owners and promotes responsible dog ownership. Affiliate AKC organizations include the AKC Humane Fund, AKC Canine Health Foundation, AKC Companion Animal Recovery and the AKC Museum of the Dog. For more information, visit www.akc.org.
AKC, American Kennel Club, the American Kennel Club seal and design, and all associated marks and logos are trademarks, registered trademarks and service marks of The American Kennel Club, Inc.
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