The Truth About Pet Theft

5 min read
Jan 18, 2022

Most people take precautionary measures every day to protect what they value most.  We lock our cars and homes when we leave them. We even outfit our homes with alarm systems, cameras, and doorbells that allow us to see who comes to our homes in our absence.  We secure our children in car seats for safe travel and wear seatbelts when in a vehicle. 

So why should protecting our furry family members be any less important?  Many people don’t realize how widespread pet theft is and threat it can happen anywhere and in any neighboorhood. 

Knowledge and preparation can be your best defense against potential criminals who see your pet as an opportunity to make quick money. Keep reading to learn more.

Why Are Pets Stolen?

The following are some of the most common reasons pets are stolen:

  • Purebred dogs can be easily sold for thousands of dollars.
  • Thieves can make quick money selling pets to puppy mills for breeding.
  • Some pets are sold to research laboratories.
  • Doberman Pinschers and American Pit Bull Terriers might be taken to use as “bait dogs” to train fighting dogs.
  • Some pets are stolen and sold in pet stores.
  • Some thieves steal pets and wait for a monetary reward to be offered so they can return the pet and collect the money.

How to Safeguard your Pet

Microchip your pet Make sure your dog (and cat) are microchipped and keep all information in the microchip database current.  Not only is this crucial to the safe return of a lost pet, but an up-to-date microchip also provides proof of ownership.

Do not leave your pet tied up in public Never leave your dog tied up outside a shop, restaurant, or other public location even if you intend to run in for a minute.  A minute is all it takes for a thief to grab your dog. Play it safe and stick to dog-friendly shops.  If that’s not possible, bring a friend who can wait with your dog while you run inside to do an errand. Make sure your fence is secure If your dog spends time in your yard, keep an eye on him. 

It only takes a moment for a dognapper to reach over or unlatch a fence. Even if you are watching your dog whenever he plays in the yard, make sure that your fence is securely locked.  It is just one extra deterrent to a would-be dog thief. Keep your pet indoors when unattended. Do not leave your dog outdoors when you are not at home.  Even if you have a fenced-in yard, it takes just a minute for a thief to steal your beloved dog. Never let your dog roam free in the neighborhood: See something; say something. Be aware of strangers in your neighborhood, and be sure to always have a recent photo of your pet.

If you suspect that someone doesn’t belong there, alert your neighbors and report any suspicious activity to the police. Keep an up-to-date license and registration on your pet In addition to microchipping, keep a collar and identification tag on your pet. Your pet should also have a current registration tag on her collar. Do not leave a pet alone in the car, even if you are stopping for a quick errand on a mild day, the short time you leave your dog unattended is enough time for a determined dog thief to smash your car window and snatch your furry friend.  Keep your dog leashed Keep your dog leashed whenever you are outside your yard. 

If your yard is not fenced in, keep your dog leashed whenever you are outside. Vary your walks Varying the times and routes of your walks will lessen the chances of a potential pet thief learning your schedule.  Additionally, it will spice up the walking regimen for you and Fido! Additionally, always keep in mind the following: Do not advertise “free to good home” Do not use “free to good home ads” when looking for a new home for your pet.

Do not place your pet in a new home without checking the new guardian’s references, visiting the premises, or having the new guardians sign a pet adoption contract. Never give pets away for free. Even if you charge a small adoption fee, you’ll be more likely to deter people who have bad intentions for the animal. Spay and neuter your pets.

Spaying and neutering your pets not only helps with the severe pet overpopulation problem, but it also helps keep your pets close to home. Pets who have been spayed or neutered can be less likely to wander.

What To Do If Your Pet is Stolen

Unfortunately, even the most vigilant of pet parents are not immune to becoming victims of pet theft.  If you suspect that your pet has been stolen, act immediately. The following actions should be taken as soon as possible:

  • Contact your local police and animal control officer
  • Request that they list your dog in the “stolen article” category on the FBI’s
  • National Crime Information Center
  • Post fliers with recent photos of your dog
  • Speak to people in your neighborhood and ask if they have noticed unusual people or activity
  • Share recent pictures of your pet with your local television station and newspaper and ask that they please share the information


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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.


1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.