Houston PetTalk April 2011 : Page 58

Beware: Stolen Pets Tips For Keeping Pets Safe I f you’ve lost a pet, you know the ter-rible ordeal it can be. Where ismy pet? Is it alive?Here are some practi-cal steps to prevent the loss, give ideas on finding lost or stolen pets and what to do to increase your chances of being reunited with your pet. Remember “Boo” the missing/stolen beagle from theHouston area that was recently covered on some local TV sta-tions? Boo’s saga is a long and potentially tragic one, but ended miraculously with an unexpected recovery. Boo, an aging, overweight beagle, had wandered from his home. The Smith fam-ily distributed signs and placed an advert on Craig’s List. A call came in from the ad claiming they had the dog and wanted a reward. After some back and forth with the suspect, it appeared the person did indeed have Boo but eventually dumped him on the street where he was later found and returned by a good Samaritan. Stolen pets is a big business so beware! Other missing dogs in the area have not been so lucky. It is estimated that around 10 million pets are lost or stolen every year in the U.S. About half were stolen for a variety of unpleasant reasons, too unsettling and numerous to list. Steps to increase prevention and/or chances of recovery include: ❖ Keep your yard secure to prevent all means of escape. Dogs can dig holes under a fence, find weak areas of fenc-ing or jump over. ❖ ❖ ❖ Obedience training helps in getting a dog to come when called. Make sure to always keep a reflective collar with ID tags on at all times. Have your pet microchipped. Often, collars and tags can be compromised. ❖ Have a recent photo of your pet handy. ❖ Keep an item that your pet wears, sleeps on or plays with containing their scent. This is necessary if you employ tracking dogs in your search. 60 www.houstonpettalk.com ❖ ❖ ❖ By: Susan Boggio ❖ Consider security cameras. ❖ When a pet is missing: Cover the area on foot and by vehicle, calling their name repeatedly. Speak to neighbors,mailmen/delivery, law enforcement, anyone who might have knowledge of your pet’s whereabouts. Be diligent; at night your flashlights and headlights can reflect on their eyes & reflective collar, so don’t forget night searches. ❖ Take the dog’s photo and make LARGE posters. Use duct tape to put inmany areas. Intersections are great; bright fluorescent poster board is best. Staple signs to stakes. Use LARGE letters for “TINY DOG LOST,” or anything noticeable. Include when/ where/description/phone number. ❖ Make flyers withmore detailed infor-mation such asmarkings, behavior, reward offerings, etc. Walk the street, go to houses and drive around the area and hand flyers out tomailmen/deliv-ery/law enforcement/neighbors, etc. Always be friendly but ardently ask for help. Put posters on your vehicle as you’re driving around. Tape it to back and/or front of your shirt/jacket so neighbors can know who you are and what you need. Someonemay stop you if they have spotted your pet. Enlist friends, veterinarian and others in pet rescue who will help you. If a few days pass, consider hiring a pet detective service (www.doggone-detectives.com). ❖ Call veterinarian offices, shelters, res-cues, particularly if your pet is friendly and easily picked up. Stolen dog scams exist right here in Houston so please be vigilant and take precautions for your pet. Thieves have and will scoop up a dog that is just out-side for a “quick potty” with no supervi-sion. Beware!

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