February 14 is also Pet Theft Awareness Day.
If you are like me, you find it pretty heart-wrenching to see posts on Facebook and to walk by posters hanging from telephone poles pleading for information about a missing dog.
Pet theft is a reality. And there are things you can do to prevent it.
- Keep your dog inside, this is particularly important for the long hours when you are at work and away from home
- Padlock gates to your section
- Never leave your dog tied outside of a shop such as a supermarket; thieves are opportunists and they can snatch a dog that is unattended very quickly
- Do not let your dog roam in the neighbourhood
- Spaying or neutering your dog will discourage them from the urge to roam
- Make sure your dog has its licence tag and identification tag on its collar; in New Zealand micro-chipping of dogs is now mandatory
- When returning a stray animal to an owner, request proof of ownership, including photos of the animal, vet records, etc (in practice, I have not always needed to be so vigilant of this step because the dog has been SOOO excited to see its family)
- Be aware of strangers in the neighborhood and join your local neighbourhood watch group. It pays to keep a close eye on what is happening in your community. If you see something suspicious, snap photos with your phone, report it to the police ASAP, and let your neighbours know, too.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand