Animal Issues Movement

Pet Theft Bulletin

Every year thousands of pets are stolen in the Los Angeles area. There are no accurate statistics because it is impossible to determine how many missing pets have actually been taken and how many have wandered away through unlatched gates or inadequate/damaged fences.

Stolen pets may be sold locally, shipped to "puppy mill" operations all over the U.S. to be used for breeding, sold to research labs, or used as "blood bait" by dog fighters. Whatever happens to a stolen pet will not be good, so owners have a special obligation to assure their pets are safe and secure.

Take clear photos of your pet (head and body shots) periodically and keep them. You can use them to immediately prepare a flyer if your pet is missing or stolen. You can positively ID and confirm your ownership if/when you find your pet.

How To Avoid Pet Theft

  1. Never leave your pet in an unprotected area without supervision. (This includes a front yard, park, or on the street.)
  2. Never leave your pet alone in a parked car. (A "toy" breed dog can go into most stores in a soft, mesh carrier.)
  3. Never walk your dog offleash. (If possible, use a harness so you can quickly pick up a small dog.)
    Never tie your dog outside a store while you shop.
  4. Be sure your pet always wears identification, including a current license tag.
  5. Microchip your pet and/or have it tattooed for permanent identification.
  6. Spay or neuter your pet and place this information on its id tag. (Notifies that pet cannot be bred.)

How To Stop Pet Theft

  1. Never buy a pet from a stranger on the street or at a swap meet or other public area.
  2. If you answer an advertisement for a pet for sale, ask for positive proof of ownership; such as a bill of sale, registration papers, shelter adoption receipt and/or veterinary records. (if these cannot be produced, it is likely the animal may have been stolen.)
  3. If you believe you know someone who is involved in pet theft, either as an individual or as part of an organized ring, report this information to local law enforcement and your local animal control or SPCA. (Pets are personal property under the law, and stealing them can be either a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the value of the animal.)

Note: Remember, if you purchase or receive a pet from an unknown source, you may be in possession of stolen property.

If your pet is stolen:

  1. IMMEDIATELY file a report with local police or sheriff
  2. Immediately make a flyer and circulate it in the area where the pet disappeared. (Include color, gender, size, breed, whether spayed/neutered, street location from which pet disappeared, a 24-hour phone/message number, any reward offered for return.)
  3. Immediately visit all surrounding shelters to search for your pet.
  4. Post the flyer in each shelter and return every two (2) days to look for your pet and assure the flyer has not been removed.
  5. Post the flyer in veterinary offices, pet supply stores, at and near dog parks, fax it to groomers, pet sitters, breeders (if purebred animal), trainers, etc.
  6. Post the flyer in any local business that will display it.
  7. Run "lost" ads in as many local/citywide newspapers as possible. contact TV/radio stations.
  8. Check all "found" ads in newspapers daily.
  9. Monitor "pets for sale" and "pet adoption" ads daily in newspapers and on Internet sites.
  10. Walk around the area where your pet disappeared, calling its name, especially in the evening when traffic noises subside. (If someone has your pet inside, it may hear your voice and bark or try to get to you.)
  11. Contact all local animal rescue and/or "breed rescue" groups and send them a flyer. Use shelter lists, the Internet and adoption columns in newspaper to locate them.
  12. Search the Internet under "lost/stolen pets" for helpful information.
  13. Do NOT send or give money to anyone who says they will get your dog back. (a common scam is asking for money to transport your pet back from another state.)
  14. Before paying a pet-finding service, assure they will circulate flyers and pictures of your pet, determine how large an area will be covered, and ask for references from former customers.
  15. Do not take cash to a remote location to meet someone who claims to have your pet. (Contact your local police or law enforcement agency and ask them what to do if you receive a call to recover your dog and pay a promised reward.) Do NOT disclose your home address or other personal information to callers.
  16. If you think you have located your stolen pet, do not approach the person who has it without first asking an animal control/law enforcement officer to accompany you. (Once you have made contact, your pet may be quickly removed from the location and hidden.)
  17. Don't give up on finding your pet!!! If it was given or sold to a new home, it may later escape or be abandoned, and it may end up in a shelter weeks later. Also, your pet may have been purchased or found by a caring person who will return it to you if they realize it was stolen.
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