How to Protect Your Precious Pet from Theft

You love your pet (obv!) so you’ll do whatever you can to protect them from danger, right?

That includes protecting them from the unimaginable: people who want to steal them from you. The motives for pet theft are many, according to Best Friends Animal Society, the main one being money.

“Dogs, especially purebreds, can be resold quickly through online classified ads, or in parking lots or from roadside stands, so they represent a fast source of hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in cash for the thief,” says Best Friends spokeswoman Temma Martin. “People also steal purebred pets that are not spayed or neutered to breed them and sell the puppies, or they sell them to someone else who will.”

As responsible pet owners, we need to do what we can to stop theft before it happens. So we asked Best Friends for their advice about keeping pets safe on Pet Theft Awareness Day (Feb. 14) and beyond.

“While no one knows exactly how prevalent pet theft is, we all know it happens, and it’s heartbreaking when it does,” Martin adds. “Taking precautions to protect pets, and refusing to purchase potentially stolen pets from questionable sources, can help you avoid the sad cycle of pet theft.”

Don’t let pets run loose. If your pet is frequently outdoors, keep your yard secure and don’t leave your pet outside for long periods of time when you’re not home, Martin says. “Consider locking your gate,” she adds. “Dogs who are easily visible in the yard are more vulnerable to being stolen.”

Keep close tabs on your pet. A pet who freely roams a neighborhood is an easy target for a thief. Additionally, “if you take [dogs] to places like dog parks, keep them within view and always use a leash on walks,” she adds.

Be sure your pet is easily identifiable. “Make sure pets wear current identification, and have them microchipped,” Martin says. “If you move or change your phone number, update microchip information with the shelter or veterinarian who implanted the chip. Unless you register your chip with the microchip company, whoever implanted the chip maintains your contact info.”

Always have recent photos of your pet handy. Be sure you have clear, recent photos of your pets, and note any unusual markings that make them stand out. “Keep vet records handy, in case your pet is stolen and recovered, so you can prove he or she is yours,” Martin says.

Always spay or neuter your pets. Animals who can’t breed could be less valuable to potential thieves. “For females, consider putting a tag on them that says, ‘I am spayed and microchipped.’ Spayed or neutered pets are of less value to someone who would otherwise breed or resell them,” Martin explains.

Only adopt or buy pets from well-established sources. When you buy pets online it can be more difficult to know exactly where they came from. “Help reduce the demand for stolen pets by adopting from shelters or rescue groups, or buying only from established, reputable sources,” Martin says. “People selling pets online, or in odd locations could be unloading stolen pets.”

If your pet is ever stolen, spread the word. If the unthinkable happens, get the word out that your precious pet is missing. “Report the theft to the police and local shelters, and post photos and descriptions on social media,” Martin says. “Put up flyers in the neighborhood and in local veterinary clinics. This will increase the chances that someone might recognize your missing pet and get it back to you.”

For more helpful advice from Best Friend Animal Society, visit their website. 


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Amy Jamieson

A former senior editor for, Amy launched People Pets for People magazine in 2008. Now she writes about pets, lifestyle and more from her bucolic saltbox in Collinsville, Connecticut, usually with a cat in her lap and a dog at her feet.

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