13 September 2010

Stolen dog reunited with owners after 7 years, tips on how to prevent pet theft

Last week Brad and Amy Davis received a surprising phone call - their family dog who had been missing for 7 years had been found over 400 miles away from their Michigan home. Jake, then a 9 month old Weimaraner, had been stolen from their backyard the day after Thanksgiving in 2003 by thieves who had left his collar behind. Despite the fact that Jake had a microchip, and that the family offered a reward for his return, the Davises had no news of his whereabouts until a recovery specialist from the American Kennel Club Companion Animal Recovery (AKC CAR) called to say Jake's microchip had been scanned at the Esthill County Animal Shelter in Ravenna, Kentucky. Jake is now back in Michigan and is settling back into family life.

For the past two years the AKC has been tracking the rising trend of pet thefts across America, and according to their National Pet Theft Database (based on customer and media reports), around 177 pets have been stolen so far in 2010, compared to 162 last year and 71 in 2008. Despite the thefts however, pets with permanent identification, like Jake, can be traced back to their original owners.

"When the shelter staff contacted us I was really glad we had the family's updated information in our database," said Phyllis Arsenault, the recovery specialist who handled Jake's case. "When I spoke to Brad, he was ecstatic about his dog's return."

"We are thrilled to reunite the Davises and Jake after all these years," said Tom Sharp, CEO of AKC CAR. "Jake's homecoming demonstrates how important it is for pet owners to first verify their pet's microchip is enrolled in a pet recovery service like AKC CAR that charges no annual fees or record update fees, and second, to make sure their contact information is always up-to-date."

For more information on AKC CAR's microchip and lifetime recovery service call 1-800-252-7894 or go to akccar.org.

To watch the Davis family talking about Jake's remarkable return home on the CBS Early Show go to CBSnews.com.

In response to the alarming number of pet thefts, the AKC offers the following guidelines to ensure your pet does not become another crime statistic.


In your neighborhood
  • Don't let your dog off leash - Keeping your dog close to you reduces the likelihood it will wander off and catch the attention of theives.
  • Don't leave your dog unattended in the your yard - Dogs left outside for long periods are targets, especially if your fenced-in yard is visible from the street.
  • Be cautious with information - If strangers approach you to admire your dog, don't answer questions relating to the cost of the animal or where you live. 
On the road
  •  Don't leave your dog in in unattended car, even if it's locked - apart from the obvious health risks to the dog, it's also an invitation to thieves, even if you've only left the car momentarily. Leaving expensive items on the car will only encourage a break-in which could allow the dog to escape, even if the thieves don't take it.
  • Don't tie your dog outside a store - This popular practice could be an easy target to a thief. If you need to take your dog with you to the store, only go to a dog-friendly store.
  • Protect your dog with microchip ID - Collars and tags can be easily lost or removed so make sure you have permanent ID with a microchip. Thieves will not know the dog is microchipped until a veterinarian or shelter worker scans it so keep your contact information up-to-date with your microchip recovery service provider. For more information, enroll your pet in a 24-hour recovery service at www.akccar.org
  • If you suspect your dog has been stolen - Immediately call the police/animal control officer for the are your dog was last seen and file a police report. if your dog has a microchip, ask to have the unique serial number (and the dog's description) posted int eh 'stolen article' section of the National Crime Information Center.
  • Canvass the neighborhood - Talk to the people in the area your pet went missing for possible sightings of the theft.
  • Have fliers with a recent photo ready to go if your dog goes missing - Keep several current photos (profile and headshot) of your dog in you wallet or an easily accessible website so that you can distribute it quickly if your pet goes missing.
  • Contact the local media - Call the local TV, radio and newspaper and ask to have a web post put out about your missing pet.
  • Don't buy dogs from the internet, flea markets or roadside vans - There is simply no way you can verify where a dog bought from one of these outlets came from. Web sites and online classifieds can be easily falsified and chances are you will never be able to find or identify the seller in case of a problem.
  • Even newspaper ads may be suspect - Adult dogs offered for sale at reduced prices, for a 'relocation fee', or asking for last minute shipping fees should be red flags. Dog owners who truly love their pets and are unable to keep them will choose to find a loving home without payment for re-homing the animal.
  • Seek out reputable breeders or rescue groups - Visit the home of the breeder, meet the puppy's mother, and see the litter of puppies. Developing a good relationship with the breeder will bring you peace of mind when purchasing. Contacting breed shelter groups can be a safe alternative when looking for an adult dog.
  • Demand proper papers on your purebred puppy - Ask for the AKC Litter Registration Number and contact AKC customer services at 919-233-9767 to verify registration authenticity of your purebred puppy.
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    Bev Hahler | @redhotvegan
    Bev, a vegetarian since she was 14 years old, became more interested in veganism several years ago after studying Agro-business as part of an Ecology degree. Follow Bev on her blog and Facebook.

    Photo credit: PRNewsFoto/AKC Companion Animal Recovery