Pet Theft - What to Do if It Happens to You

Pet theft is frequent in certain areas, and it mainly happens with purebred dogs and cats. Here are some guidelines on what to do if your pet goes missing.
Pet Theft - What to Do if It Happens to You
Francisco María García

Written and verified by the lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Many people are unsure about how to react or what to do in the event of pet theft. The fact is that you must be familiar with certain procedures in order to resolve the situation favorably.

After analyzing the number of pet thefts the importance of being able to correctly tag an animal is clear — by implanting a microchip, for example. Below, you’ll see some general guidelines to help you know what to do to protect your pet against theft within the legal regulations.

Guidelines to follow in the event of a pet theft

Notify the authorities

The first thing to do if you suspect your pet was kidnapped is to notify your local authorities.

Similarly, you must file a complaint at your local town hall and also get in touch with the animal shelters in your community as well as with other animal control agencies. File a lost pet report with every shelter within a 60-mile radius of your home and visit the nearest ones daily.

In all such complaints, you must be ready to provide any necessary data required by the institution. In general, they’ll ask for the pet’s chip number, owner contact information, and also a description of when and where you saw the animal last.

Contact shelter and protective services

Another thing to do in a dog theft situation is to contact any other animal protection organizations and describe the animal. You must explore the possibility that perhaps someone found the pet and took it to one of these places. Also try the place where you rescued it from, if applicable.

The first hours subsequent to the theft are crucial when it comes to finding your pet. Therefore, you must do a thorough search around the neighborhood where you last saw the animal. Printing flyers is another effective way to put out the word. Make sure they contain a good photo of the animal together with a thorough description of it and don’t forget to add your name and contact info.

A person walking with a dog.

Use of social networks in the event of a pet theft

Social networks are very helpful when it comes to finding a missing animal. Just as with posters, it’s important to attach a photo of the animal together with a good description and information about where you last saw it or the circumstances in which it disappeared. Again, don’t forget your contact information.

In addition, make use of your social networks to share the same information. You must reach as many people as you can.

Public awareness

Citizen awareness is always helpful. During the search process, you must tell people as much as you can about the conditions in which the animal disappeared. Many cases of animal thefts have been resolved thanks to the help of a highly active community.

A person trying to steal a dog.

Why would anyone steal a pet?

Surprisingly, animal theft is a lot more common than you’d think. People who steal these animals do so for dog fights, sale, breeding, and even bestiality. It’s obvious that a person who steals an animal doesn’t have the best of intentions in mind, and so the animal is sure to be hurt in one way or another.

You must file a complaint immediately if you find out the identity of the thief so that the authorities can open a criminal investigation. This complaint will consist of a written statement in which the investigating court is informed of the facts that led to the loss of the animal.

In conclusion, what should you do if someone steals your pet? Reacting quickly is crucial, without a doubt. Keep in mind that the first hours or days after the theft are essential to finding the whereabouts of your animal friend. It’s important that you file a complaint with your local authorities and then conduct a search.

Using social media is a great idea for finding your buddy and bringing them home. In addition, we advise that you properly tag the animal with a microchip or some other preventive method. Finally, monetary rewards always get people’s attention. So, don’t hesitate to offer one.

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The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.