How to bite back
In addition to the obvious — keeping pets on a leash and never leaving them unattended in backyards or cars — your best defense against dognapping is to:
- Get under-skin security. "A pet-identifying microchip implanted under the dog's skin can be scanned no matter where the dog turns up and proves that you're the owner," says Peterson. Pilfered pooches with microchips are considered by the legal system as stolen property, making a stronger case for criminal charges.
- Post fliers and ads, without rewards. Include a recent photo and the "last seen" location. "But do not offer a reward because that only incentivizes criminals to steal and return the pet," Peterson says.
- Call police. Even if you suspect a pet is lost and not stolen, file a report with the animal control officer. If someone subsequently says your pet has been found and requests a reward, a report will put you on stronger ground if you decide to take legal action.
- Be mindful of bragging. If strangers approach to admire your dog during walks, don't answer questions about how much the dog cost or give details about where you live.
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Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.