In the US, animal lovers have designated Valentine’s Day as a date to discover ways to guard their hearts against the loss of their canine or cat companion to pet theft. Across the pond, pet parents mark the somber pet holiday each March with a week of dogged devotion to protecting our four-pawed pals from being stolen.
A German Shorthaired Pointer who vanished in a white van during a supervised day of play with her brothers and sisters in late 2012, Angel was never reunited with her loving family. Her memory acts as a guardian angel for other innocent animals, however, thanks to the director of the social media-based organization The Dog Union and a staff member at VioVet, who were inspired by the search for the lost dog and a social media graphic on the topic to create Pet Theft Awareness Week (which is taking place March 14 – 21 in 2016).
According to a Pet Theft census, in 2013 a minimum of three dogs and cats are stolen from their forever families every day in the UK. The majority of pets (52 percent) disappear from their family garden, but thieves have also taken people’s dogs and cats while breaking into a home, run away with people’s canine companions during dog walks, stolen pets as they wait patiently outside a store for their guardian, and even spirited away with companion animals who are inside shops. The causes for the criminal act range from ransom and selling the dog online to breeding and dog fighting, with small dogs used as bait.
Sadly, 46 percent of dogs who disappear due to pet theft in the UK remain missing one year after they vanished. To turn the tide on the staggering statistic, Pet Theft Awareness Week offers the following advice to keep your canine companion safe:
- A dog should never be left unattended outside a store while their guardian goes shopping.
- Be aware of surroundings when going on a stroll with Spot, as thieves have been known to steal canines on constitutionals with their pet parent.
- As more than half of dogs stolen were in the family garden at the time of their abduction, make sure the area is secure.
- Take a picture of your pet periodically for use in case of your dog’s disappearance.
- Have your dog microchipped, and keep contact info accurate.
- Ask your vet to check your pet’s chip during each visit.
Photo Credit: Pet Theft Awareness Week/ Facebook