Did your pet survive New Year’s Eve fireworks without escaping?
You’re definitely one of the lucky ones.
Our friends at Pet Search, Australia’s longest running and best lost pet locators were horrified to receive 100% more calls about missing pets from around Australia on NYE 2016/2017 than at the same time last year.
To hear possible reasons why and what to do/not do to keep your pets safe – check out our podcast chat with chief dog detective Lee Jefferies
But New Year’s shenanigans aren’t the only threat to your pet’s safety – as Lee Jefferies explains in this guest blog especially prepared for VETtalk TV.com
MISSING – OR STOLEN? KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE CAN SPEED THEIR RECOVERY.
Guest blog by Lee Jeffries - www.petsearch.com.au
“A NATIONAL Dog Theft Survey has found dogs stolen from people’s yards are more likely to be sold for profit than used in a dog fighting ring.”
That was the headline that greeted Gold Coast pet owners in November last year. If it was meant to be reassuring, it wasn’t.
Because the story wasn’t picked up by other media there’s little way to check if the survey occurred at all.
However – it does provide a timely reminder that the world of pet owners has changed dramatically in recent years and not for the better.
Yes – more dogs are being stolen – but not all suspected thefts actually involve crooks – and it’s hard for owners to sometimes realise their pet actually went missing because of human mistake eg an unlatched gate.
However, the rise of pet thefts, in particular, dogs is of real concern and hopefully, being forewarned will mean fewer pets get stolen.
Which breed tops ‘Missing’ Lists? Staffys have been the number 1 stolen dog for the entire 20+ years Pet Search has been helping find lost pets.
Sadly, this isn’t a surprise because Staffys, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Bull Terriers whatever you want to call them are THE most popular breed in Australia. (Unlike the USA where Golden Retrievers still reign supreme).
In our work, we’ve noticed the most common motive is misplaced ‘rescue’ reasons. The would-be Samaritan/thief believes the pet’s owner neglects the dog, so they will keep it.
It doesn’t take much. They see a pet behave in a shy manner, or the pet has matted hair, long nails, fly bites, dirty teeth, no collar or even just the fact that the dog was found on the street.
These misplaced good intentions are fuelled by stories in the Media and on social media about bad pounds or by ads from welfare organisations about the huge number of dumped pets (most not realising an animal is simply lost).
Animals showing such signs are often viewed by people – again wrongly - that the dog is neglected or unwanted and decide to keep the pet and not return it to the owner or advise authorities they’ve found it. (That’s against the law but hasn’t proven to be a real deterrent to people ‘saving’ found pets).
The second reason dogs are stolen is because the person wants that particular dog. It might be friendly, good looking (i.e recognisable breed) or well trained. Dogs are often kept because they are a nice dog and someone “falls in love” with that dog.
The third category of dog thefts is the most worrying…theft for breeding/profit from a dog breeder’s residence.
This type of crime is on the rise with thieves deliberately deciding not just the species they want, but a specific dog from a specific breeder. It’s thought person the thief was denied a purchase request or didn’t want to pay the asking price.
Although breeders have been reporting more puppies and breeding dogs as being stolen, many in the breeding industry seem to be in denial and that “it won’t happen to them”.
We have offered for years to talk about protection from dog theft at any meetings or club events but only a couple of breed clubs have taken us up on this.
These dogs are not generally sold on the internet, they are sold on through friends and work colleagues or in some cases bikies. These are generally planned thefts i.e property is sussed out and owners routine is known or opportunity is presented when an owner is out and the dog/s are taken
The fourth category of pet theft is on-selling. This is generally an opportunistic crime, for example a dog has been left tied up outside shops or a dog is in the front yard of a house or is allowed to walk itself on the street.
More often than not, these pets are taken by someone who lives locally, who perhaps has a drug addiction or another need for quick money who’ll grab the dog and try to sell it quickly through the internet or through other people.
We separate out the last 2 categories because they are different types of cases, different motives and different types of people commit the crimes.
This is a mistake a lot of owners make when looking at pet theft and their missing pet.
They hear anecdotal stories about stolen pets and end up convinced their own pet has been stolen and as a result this belief can often hamper or do damage to their search.
A common example is a distressed owner offering a $10,000 reward or saying their pet has been stolen when there is nothing to indicate it has been stolen.
Unfortunately human behaviour also means that people will say their dog was stolen because it feels better to say someone took my dog rather than admitting they left the gate open and I lost my dog. Just look how many people say my wallet was stolen instead of I didn’t secure my wallet and I lost it.
One last thing we know about thieves who steal pets for motives 1, 2 and 4 is that there are distinct patterns when the missing pet is most likely to be found and returned home.
These groups of stolen pets are often reunited at the beginning or the end of school holidays, after fireworks, at the time of an injury or in the week before Christmas.
Pet thieves are generally not like you or I and do not care for the pet in the same way as if they had gone out and decided to get a dog of their own.
So the first time the pet becomes unwell requiring a visit to a vet…and the accompanying bill, or the thief wants to go on holiday or has some other change in circumstances, that pet suddenly turns up at a vet or a pound or is let out onto the street.
In the case of pets who’ve run off because of fireworks, there’s a strong likelihood they’ll escape their ‘new home’ the next time they’re exposed to fireworks and this time the finder gets their microchip scanned rather than keeping the animal which is why these type of stolen dogs are mostly reunited with their owners within 8 months to 2 years.
The novelty of the ‘found/stolen’ pet wears off and the reality of owning a pet and the responsibilities and costs involved start to set in plus at the end of the day there is a disconnection because they know it is not their pet.
If you would like to know more about keeping your pets safe or what to do the moment you realise your pet is missing you can check out our Pet Search website or Facebook page or you can sign up for our newsletter for regular updates.
Check out www.petsearch.com.au and make a note of their number 'just in case'! 1300 309 004