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What To Do if Your Pet Was Stolen

It’s heartbreaking enough to lose a pet, but even worse when you believe that your pet was stolen. There are so many desperate questions—Why would someone do such a thing? Is Fluffy being cared for? How can I get her back? If you believe that your pet was stolen, you must act immediately to try to retrieve her. Here are some ways to get a stolen pet back, as well as some preventative measures you can take:

  1. Call the police right away and ask to file a report. This will create a record of the theft and make it easier to retrieve your pet if you happen to see her or hear of her location.
  2. Give the HomeAgain lost pet recovery service the details of the alleged theft. People in your area will be alerted to the loss and may be able to offer clues about your pet’s whereabouts.
  3. Call all of the shelters, veterinary offices, and grooming salons in your town and neighboring towns. The thief may have second thoughts about keeping the animal and may even take her to the veterinarian’s office or grooming salon to dump her.
  4. Post flyers offering a reward for any information leading to the recovery of your pet, but don’t indicate that you believe she was stolen. The person who stole her might want to give her back, but probably won’t if there’s the possibility of prosecution. Also, someone that simply finds your pet may not turn her in because you may believe that the rescuer is the thief. Don’t even use the words “no questions asked.” Finally, do not specify the amount of the reward.
  5. Write an email or letter to your local newspapers to let them know about the theft. Include a photo of your pet and any details that you think may interest a reporter, especially genuine details that pull at the heartstrings, like your pet being a therapy dog, the best friend of a handicapped child, or rescued from a tragic situation. If there have been other pet thefts in the area, perhaps there’s a pet crime wave in your town, and that's definitely a story for the paper.
  6. Call your local radio station and offer them the same story. You might find a DJ that will take up your cause.
  7. If you happen to see your pet with someone else, you can approach and ask about the pet in a neutral way if you feel safe. If not, call the police immediately, and have your case number on hand. Try to follow the person at a distance. If you see the pet in someone else’s yard, contact the police immediately. Do not try to recover the pet yourself—this can be very dangerous, and you don't want to be arrested for trespassing. Use your best judgment and don't rush into a situation that you can’t handle.
  8. If someone calls you from another state or town asking for money to ship your pet back, it's probably a scam. Predators often target vulnerable pet owners through classified ads or flyers.
  9. Never leave your pet unattended in a car, outside of a store, or even in your yard if there’s a way that a thief can easily enter.

Nikki Moustaki, MA, MFA, is a dog trainer, bird care and behavior consultant, and a freelance writer in New York City. She is the author of more than 26 books on pet care and training and is the host of www.dogfessions.com.

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