About 10 million cats and dogs are lost or stolen every year in the U.S., according to an estimate by the American Humane Association. Finding out that your pet is missing is enough to send you into panic and anxiety, even more so, if there’s a suspicion that your pet has actually been stolen. AKC Reunite CEO Tom Sharp cited high-value dogs and cats as the most common targets for pet thieves. Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Terriers, and Chihuahuas are examples of dog breeds that are most likely to be stolen.
If your pet is missing and you’re quite sure that there’s been a theft, what should you do? Under the Theft Act 1968, a dog or a cat would be considered your “property” and thus, stealing it is definitely considered a crime punishable by law. You must, however, prove that the circumstances of your dog or cat’s disappearance provide reasonable grounds for you to suspect it has been stolen. But you have to act immediately upon discovery that your pet missing. First thing you must do is to cover all the bases.
1. Create a lost pet flyer.
Create a missing/lost pet flyer. This would have to include your contact details, high-resolution photos of your missing dog or cat, a short description, and where it was last seen. Pet Finder website PawMaw.com makes this easy for you. All you need to do is log in on the website and input the details required in the respective fields. Upload a photo of your lost pet and your flyer will immediately be posted in the featured section. You will also be able to print the flyer it in good quality.
2. Report the missing pet to PawMaw.com.
PawMaw.com is an online platform that allows you to file a report and get in direct contact with members of the local community. The more people who are on alert for a missing cat or dog of your pet’s description, the higher the chances of recovering your lost dog or cat.
3. Get the police involved.
It may be easy to dismiss a lost cat or dog as just having run away. And in some cases, the police might tell you that they will put the case on file, but that there’s nothing they could do to help. But if you suspect someone who has hidden your cat with the intent to keep or sell it, or if you have witnessed or CCTVs that could prove a theft has taken place, your complaint will have merit and the police should have the power to investigate and make an arrest.
4. Post flyers offering a reward in effective locations.
Posting flyers in locations a lot of people frequent can help increase chances of recovering your lost dog or cat. Print the flyers you created on PawMaw.com and put them up near business establishments, intersections, bus stops, and pet stores.
The Flyers could also be posted in several places online. Aside from PawMaw.com, upload your ad to lost and found sites, missing pet websites, and even social media. When someone responds to your ad, ask detailed questions and ask them to send a photo. Agree to meet them only in a neutral, public place, possibly with a companion. Be wary of scammers calling from another city or town. Hand the reward only once your pet is back with you safely and never beforehand.
5. Call shelters, grooming salons, and vet hospitals.
If there’s a chance that your pet just got lost or managed to run away from the thief, your best bet would be to call all shelters, animal rescue centers, and vet hospitals in and around your area. Shelters could be such busy places so paying a personal visit every day may be a faster way for you to know if a dog or cat matching your pet’s description has been checked in at any given time.
If someone has stolen your pet to keep for themselves, they might take it to grooming salons or vet hospitals. Report your loss to all salons and vets in your location as well as in nearby towns, so they could alert you if one of their customers comes in with your missing pet.
6. Do a thorough search of the neighborhood.
With your flyers put up and the police alerted, you can conduct your own search of the neighborhood within the first few days after your pet has gone missing. Check every possible hiding place and knock on doors if you have to. Show the flyer to everyone you meet on the streets in case they’ve spotted your missing pet, and follow any possible leads.
In case you suspect someone has been hiding your pet, approach them in a neutral fashion and ask discreetly. Try to observe them from a distance if someone has reported having seen them with your pet. If you see your pet for yourself, never try to recover it on your own as this could be dangerous and you may be tagged for trespassing. Alert the police instead and provide your case number.
7. Monitor pet sale ads.
Pets are often stolen by thieves who want to earn a quick buck. It’s not uncommon to see stolen kitties or stolen puppies being sold off to online buyers. It would be good advice to check online marketplaces in case somebody has put your pet up for sale. If you find a match, write down the contact information and immediately alert the police.