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Every year on Feb. 14 people celebrate Valentine’s Day with their loved ones, both human and animal. For animal lovers, the day holds extra significance by highlighting an important issue through Pet Theft Awareness Day.
In 2012, 458 dogs were stolen across the country, according to numbers tracked by the American Kennel Club’s National Pet Theft Database. That’s a significant increase from 2010, when 255 dogs were stolen.
“People are stunned when [pet theft] happens to them,” says Kirsten Theisen, director of pet care issues for The Humane Society of the United States. “You never think it’s going to happen to you, but it takes only a minute of misstep to have something go wrong.”
According to Theisen, pet theft is more common than people think, and pet owners should be aware that it can occur at any time. There are a number of steps you can take to decrease your chances of having a pet stolen. Here are Theisen’s top five tips for protecting your pet from theft.
Be aware of the location of your pet at all times and never leave it alone outdoors. Even with dogs who love to get out and run in the yard, you need to make sure they stay in visual range.
“The No. 1 deterrence [to thieves] is seeing someone,” Theisen says. “No one would challenge the owner right there.”
If you let your pet outside, then having a secure fence is crucial. Even with a secure fence, dogs should not be left out for extended periods of time. Just because your dog hasn’t dug a hole before doesn’t mean he won’t try when something interesting shows up on the other side of the fence.
A common way for pets to disappear is not through malicious theft, but through good intentions. If you leave your pet alone in the car, even if only for a few minutes, a passer-by may believe he or she is acting in the best interest of the animal by removing it.
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