Web Extra: Protecting your pet

By Tara Evans, Producer, tevans@wkmg.com
Published On: Dec 06 2013 01:14:57 PM EST
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Pet flipping is a problem that's sweeping the nation. It's risen nearly 30% in the past year, according to the American Kennel Club. The worst part is, it's almost impossible to tell if it's actually happened to your pet.

Here are some things the American Kennel Club said you can do to help protect your pet from thieves:

PREVENTION

In the Neighborhood

· Don't let your dog off-leash - Keeping your dog close to you reduces the likelihood it will wander off and catch the attention of thieves.
· Don't leave your dog unattended in your yard - Dogs left outdoors for long periods of time are targets, especially if your fenced-in yard is visible from the street.
· Be Cautious with information - If strangers approach you to admire your dog during walks, don't answer questions about how much the dog cost or give details about where you live.


On the Road
· Never leave your dog in an unattended car, even if it's locked - Besides the obvious health risks this poses to the dog, it's also an invitation for thieves, even if you are gone for only a moment. Leaving expensive items in the car such as a GPS unit or laptop will only encourage break-ins and possibly allow the dog to escape, even if the thieves don't decide to steal it too.
· Don't tie your dog outside a store - This popular practice among city-dwelling dog owners can be a recipe for disaster. If you need to go shopping, patronize only dog-friendly retailers or leave the dog at home.


RECOVERY
· Protect your dog with microchip identification - Collars and tags can be removed so make sure you have permanent ID with a microchip. Thieves will not know the dog has a microchip until a veterinarian or shelter worker scans it so
keep contact information current with your microchip recovery service provider. For more information, enroll your pet in a 24-hour recovery service and sign-up at www.akcreunite.org
· If you suspect your dog has been stolen - Immediately call the police / animal control officer in the area your pet was last seen and file a police report. If your dog has a microchip, ask to have that unique serial number, along with the dog's
description, posted in the "stolen article" category on the National Crime Information Center.
· Canvass the neighborhood - Talk to people in the immediate vicinity where your pet went missing for possible sightings of the actual theft.
· Have fliers with a recent photo ready to go if your dog goes missing - Keep several current photos (profile and headshot) of your dog in your wallet or on an easily accessible web account so that you can distribute immediately if your pet goes missing.
· Contact the media - Call Local 6, radio stations and newspapers and ask to have a web post put out about your missing pet.

· Website postings- One of the other options you have is posting a listing about your missing/stolen dog on websites dedicated to finding missing pets. There are several across the internet and many of them are free to post on. Be sure to include a thorough description as well as pictures that clearly show your dog and any unique, identifying characteristics.


DON'T BUY STOLEN PETS
· Don't buy dogs directly off the internet, or at flea markets or from roadside vans -There is simply no way to verify where an animal purchased from any of these outlets came from. Web sites and online classifieds are easily falsified, and with roadside or flea market purchases not only do you not know the pet's origins but you will never be able to find or identify the seller in case of a problem.

· Even newspaper ads may be suspect - Adult dogs offered for sale at reduced prices, for a "relocation" fee, or accompanied by requests for last minute shipping fees are red flags. Dog owners who truly love their animals and are unable to keep them will opt to find a loving home without compensation for re-homing the animal.

INSTEAD

· Most importantly, do not forget-- one of the best options for bringing a new pet into your home is to adopt from a local shelter. There are several all throughout Central Florida, and some, like the SPCA of Central Florida, are shelters where dogs are owner-relinquished, which means they aren't found like strays and often, the volunteers there know much more about the dog than they would at a regular shelter. However, even if you're looking for a specific breed, do not underestimate how many purebreds end up in shelters. It's possible to find just the pet you're looking for by searching shelters and giving a home to one that really needs one.
· You can also seek out reputable breeders or rescue groups - Visit the home of the breeder, meet the puppy's mother, and see the litter of puppies. Developing a good relationship with the breeder will bring you peace of mind when purchasing.
Contacting breed rescue groups can also be a safe alternative if you are looking for an adult dog.
· If you do decide to bring a purebred puppy into your home from a breeder, demand proper papers on the puppy - Ask for the AKC Litter Registration Number and contact AKC customer service at 919-233-9767 to verify registration authenticity of your purebred puppy.

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