Tips on how to prevent your pet getting ‘dognapped’

Animal advocates say dognapping is on the rise, and it’s important that owners know how to best protect their furry friends.

Last year in our area, there were over 10 dognappings. The latest reported case happened in District Heights, Maryland, where a 5-year-old Dachshund was taken from its owner’s porch.

The Humane Rescue Alliance reunites numerous animals with their families each year. The alliance says there are ways to keep your pet safe and returned in the event they are kidnapped.

  • Make sure that your pet is microchipped and that your contact information on file is up-to-date.
  • Your pet should always wear a collar or an ID tag with your name, phone number, and current address.
  • Take clear photographs of your pet from various angles and update them regularly. Make note of any distinguishing features that could be helpful in identifying your pet.
  • Keep photographs of yourself with your pet, as well as veterinary records and adoption or purchase paperwork to prove yourself as the owner.

The alliance also suggests owners be aware, not to leave their pet unattended and keep pets on a leash when outside.

If your pet is kidnapped:

  • File a report with the police as a theft (rather than a lost animal). While we believe pets are family, in many states, pets are deemed personal property, and the police will be a critical resource in your pet’s recovery.
  • Contact local veterinarians, groomers, and animal shelters to report your pet as missing or kidnapped. Include information about where they went missing, their description, updated photos, and any important medical information.
  • If possible, report your pet as missing or kidnapped through your microchip agency.
  • Harness the power of social media and lost-and-found websites. Post key information and photos on sites such as Facebook, Nextdoor, Pawboost and Petco Love Lost. Ask neighbors, family and friends to share your post on their platforms.
  • Reach out to neighbors in the area where your pet went missing to see if they have any surveillance footage that could be helpful in locating your kidnapped pet.
  • Create flyers or posters using neon-colored paper or poster board to draw attention. Use a clear call-to-action at the top of the poster such as “LOST DOG/CAT” or “PLEASE HELP.” Include brief information about how people can contact you, as well as a recent photo of your pet. Weatherproof your posters or flyers by covering them with clear packaging tape or by inserting them into a plastic sheet protector.
Cheyenne Corin

Cheyenne Corin joined the WTOP News team in February 2023. Prior to this role she was a Montgomery County, Maryland, bureau reporter at WDVM/DC News Now.

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