Time Magazine reports that before the Covid-19 pandemic, Americans lost around 2 million pets annually to thieves.1 Despite the mounting concerns, theft cases are rarely investigated.
But there is a glimmer of hope—every February 14th is National Pet Theft Awareness Day.
What Is the Purpose of National Pet Theft Awareness Day?
Pet Theft Awareness Day was created by Last Chance for Animals, a non-profit organization advocating for animal rights in 1984. Its main purpose is to enlighten people on how to protect pets. Besides, the organization teaches pet owners what actions to take when an animal is stolen.
Today, however, the organization has spread its roots to advocate for wild animals too. In 2004, Last Chance’s lawyers successfully pushed the Supreme Court of New Jersey to stop bear hunting season.
In 2011, the organization gained national prominence after raising money for animals affected by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The 3 Ways to Observe National Pet Theft Awareness Day
You can do a few things to observe Pet Theft Awareness Day:
1. Protect your pets
Before going out and teaching others how to prevent pet theft, remember to begin at home. Use collars with GPS trackers or microchips to protect them against theft.
2. Adopt an animal
The USA has over 3,500 registered animal shelters receiving approximately 6 million animals annually. Of all the animals, only around 4.1 million are adopted.
While it is a good sign that over two-thirds of the animals find a second home, the remaining one-third still need guardians. Show shelter animals love by adopting them or at least visiting them on National Pet Theft Awareness Day.
3. Spend some time with your pet or in an animal shelter
Pets connect with their owners emotionally. The longer you leave them unattended, the more stressed they become. Spend quality time with your pet by hiking, cuddling, and playing.
If you don’t have pets, sacrifice a few hours for animals in a shelter. Clean, treat and play with them. Animals are always grateful when they are well taken care of.
The 3 Tips for Protecting Pets Against Theft
Since National Pet Theft Awareness Day is all about protecting animals, how do you stop thieves from taking pets?
1. Never leave pets unattended
Unattended animals attract unwanted attention. Don’t leave a pet unattended or inside a car with windows rolled down. The animal is vulnerable, and a passerby may take the opportunity.
Sharing pictures of everything we do is part of a daily ritual. But be careful when sharing pictures of pets. Enlightened thieves scour through social platforms, searching for exotic species to steal from their owners.
If you must share pet pictures online, do not tag the location. Blur unique identifiers such as collars for added protection.
3. Explore available anti-theft technology
As the world evolves, companies are producing high-tech equipment that may protect pets against thieves. An example is a GPS tracker. This small device provides accurate real-time information about a pet’s location. Standard GPS devices come on a collar and are good for large pets. Unfortunately, a thief may easily disable it.
Another piece of security equipment is a radio frequency identification (RFID) microchip. The rice grain-sized device is implanted below the skin and provides unique information about an animal. Unlike GPS trackers, microchips do not need a battery. They sit inertly until a scanner discovers them.
While the RFID may not provide real-time information on the location of a pet, it acts like a fingerprint. Each microchip is unique to a pet.
Lastly, install security cameras and motion sensors to track the whereabouts of pets inside a home.
The 4 Things to Do If Someone Steals Your Pet
On a sad note, a study focusing on cats reported that less than 5% of lost cats are returned to their owners. Luckily, you can improve the chances of finding a lost pet.
1. Report the case to the police
Stealing is a criminal offense and should be reported to the police immediately. You can visit the police station in person to record a statement and provide a clear description of the pet.
2. Spread the word
Let everyone know that your pet is missing by printing out flyers with the pet’s name, picture, description, and your contact information, and posting them around the neighborhood.
Another alternative is posting the information on social platforms. It may jog someone’s memory and prompt them to share any little information they have.
3. Report the incident to animal rescue organizations
Well-established animal rescue organizations handle thousands of theft cases and, over the years, have developed a close-knit team of experts who can help you.
4. Search the neighborhood
Sometimes unneutered pets break free in search of mating partners. These cases are common and are often confused with theft. Search around the neighborhood to ascertain if your pet escaped rather than being stolen.
National Pet Theft Awareness Day is celebrated on February 14th. It was created by the Last Chance for Animals in 1984. Today, the organization spreads awareness of pet theft cases, factory farming, and the fur trade.
Be part of the wonderful community of pet lovers by appreciating animals on National Pet Theft Awareness Day through volunteering at shelters, spending time with your pet, and teaching people how to protect their animals.
Featured Image Credit: cunaplus, Shutterstock