McGruff the Crime Dog has been helping kids “take a bite out of crime” for more than 30 years. Now, with the economy in the tank and dog theft on the rise, it’s time to give back.
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According to recent media reports, dognappings are up by at least 32 percent compared with the same time period last year. The American Kennel Club offers a Companion Animal Recovery service, and the new statistics are based in part on the number of calls they’ve received this year.
AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson told the Chicago Sun Times, “Some are taken out of homes, some are taken out of cars, some are taken out of pet stores.” Peterson added, “I’ve even seen some taken out of a child’s arms on a park bench.”
Who would steal a dog? The “who” could be anyone. There “where” could be anywhere. The “why” is almost surely for profit. A stolen dog could be sold, used as a breeder, given as a gift thereby saving the expense, used to fight, held for ransom, or taken in hopes of a reward upon return.
The “how” is the one thing over which we dog owners have some control.
How can you protect your dog from dognappers looking to make a quick buck?
• Keep your dog on a leash whenever you are off of your own property. Leashed dogs are in your sight and under your control.
• Don’t leave your dog outside unattended. This includes your own yard if you lack the kind of fencing that keeps dogs in and strangers out. Bring your dog inside or invest in a dog run with a lock for those times when you can’t be outside with him.
• Avoid leaving your dog in a car unattended. Besides the threat of heat stroke, a dog alone in a car — even a locked car — is a target.
• Resist the urge to tie up your dog for even a minute and run in for coffee, a snack or an errand. One snip of the leash and your dog is someone else’s.
• Microchip your dog. This won’t prevent someone from stealing your companion, but it will be enormously helpful in getting him back where he belongs. Equipped vets, shelters, animal control facilities and emergency animal hospitals can run a quick scan to determine whether a dog has been microchipped. The number on the dog’s chip matches the number on the owner’s registration file. This is a brilliant bit of technology of which all dog owners should take advantage.
• Don’t forgo the old-fashioned! It is as important as ever to have your dog wear a collar with ID tags that contain your contact information. Again, this won’t prevent a theft, but it can help your dog find his way home.
• Always have a current photo of your dog, just in case Lost Dog fliers become a necessity. And if they do, don’t be shy about it. Plaster your neighborhood, including any and all nearby vet clinics, animal shelters and animal hospitals. Tell the world your dog is missing. Utilize Websites such as FindFido.com. Relentless word of mouth is still one of the best ways to ensure a happy reunion.
Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!” Read all of Uncle Matty’s columns at www.creators.com, and visit him at www.unclematty.com. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619.
Copyright 2014 Creators Syndicate Inc.