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The recent conviction of the man who not only shot Lady Gaga’s dog walker but also stole her two precious French Bulldogs has people talking about pet theft in California, the consequences of the crime, and how to prevent it.

Most of us love our pets as much as we love our human family members. We make an enormous number of sacrifices to make sure they are well cared for and loved. We can’t imagine having them brutally ripped from our lives.

The good news is that situations like what happened with Lady Gaga’s dogs are not very common. Most people don’t have their pets brutally yanked out of their grip while walking them. The most common types of pet thefts involve:

  • Unattended pets being removed from yards/cars/dog parks etc
  • Pets getting caught in a custody dispute when a relationship dissolves
  • Pets getting lost, found, and then claimed by another person

The good news is that while you may not be able to eliminate the odds of your pet getting stolen completely, there are things you can do to minimize the risk of losing your pet to pet-napping.

Don’t Leave Your Pet Unattended

Pets who aren’t watched are at high risk of pet-napping. It’s a crime of opportunity. Sometimes these pets are snatched by someone who knows the pet owner and wants to hurt them. Sometimes it’s because someone wants the pet for themselves and spends a great deal of time and energy scoping things out and figuring out when the pet is unattended and when it’s a good time to snatch them would be. In other cases, someone sees a random, unattended pet and takes them in a crime of opportunity.

The best way to make sure you’re pet is never a petnapping victim is always to be aware of them and the potential dangers. If you’re leaving a pet in a car for a few minutes, ensure your vehicle is locked and parked in a high-traffic area. Don’t park at the back of the parking lot where no one will notice if someone is breaking into your vehicle so they can steal your dog.

If you love turning your dog loose in the yard so they can play, you should fence off an area of your yard that’s not easy to see from the street. Change up the times you let the pet out. Never let them out when you’re not home, set up a few cameras so you can see what is happening to your pet while they are outside.

Relationship Breakdown Leads to Petnapping

The most common form of someone taking a pet is when a relationship ends, and one partner claims a pet as their own. This can lead to some very nasty situations. While you might not be able to prevent your former partner from taking your pet, you can take steps to make sure you always get the pet back. The best way to do this is to accept complete financial responsibility for your pet. Make sure your name is the only name that appears on the vet’s registration papers and vet bills. Make sure you keep electronic copies of all your pet’s paperwork in an email or cloud storage base your partner doesn’t have access to important documents about your pet.

Lost Pets that are Claimed by Someone Else

It doesn’t matter how careful you are; sometimes, pets get loose and run off. With a little luck, you’re quickly reunited, but sometimes your pet is caught by someone else and taken to an animal shelter where they’re adopted by a new pet guardian. The best way to prevent this is to ensure your pet is microchipped and that the microchip is registered to you. Also, as soon as you lose your pet, notify all local animal rescues and vet shelters. You should also use social media to alert people to look for your pet. Clear, recent photos are the best way to ensure someone doesn’t adopt your pet after finding them.

What steps have you taken to ensure your favorite fur baby doesn’t become a petnapping victim?