Pet theft is not uncommon. Every year, between 1.5 and 2 million pets are stolen and only 10% of these are returned to their owners. There are many reasons why pets get stolen. Some pets may simply have been lost and is found by another person who wants to keep it as a pet while others are intentionally stolen to be sold in pet stores, research laboratories, or to prospective pet owners. Stolen pets may also suffer even worse fates such as being used as puppy mill breeders, sold as meat to feed other animals or even humans, used as fighter dogs or baits in fighting rings, have their coat or fur made into clothing or accessories, or subjected to sadistic acts by psychopaths.
Unscrupulous Animal Dealers
There are two kinds of animal dealers in the United States categorized as Class A and Class B. Class A dealers have breeding colonies and maintain high standards in breading animals even employing veterinarians in urbane scrubs to ensure the first-rate health of animals. Class B dealers, on the other hand, obtain animals from random sources and are not subject to the same high standards as Class A dealers. A license for being a Class B dealer costs a meager $50. The USDA has not made a priority of ensuring the health and safety of animals under Class B dealers. Existing regulations for animals under Class B dealers are not properly enforced and inspections are insufficient. Many animals under the custody of Class B dealers are neglected or mistreated. Many of the Class B dealers operate a pet theft ring and obtain animals through unscrupulous means. A lot of randomly sourced animals are stolen while wandering around the neighborhood or directly taken from owner's backyards. Many of these animals are stolen in Canada and shipped to the U.S. They cannot be sold within Canada because Canada prohibits laboratories from purchasing randomly sourced animals, and also, selling it in the U.S. will make it harder for Canadian owners to trace their stolen pets. Many U.S.
Laboratories prefer to work with domestic pets because of their friendly and trusting nature, and thus get animals from Class B dealers. Class B dealers also obtain animals through advertisements of providing a "free home" for pets and through adoption. Laboratories that use animals for testing also obtain animals from pound seizure and animals that are not claimed or adopted are turned over to experimental labs. There are dealers and who loiter in shelters and offer to provide homes for pets of owners who can no longer take care of them.
Protecting your Pet
There are ways that you can decrease the chances of your pet being stolen. You should always put a collar on your pet that has up-to-date contact information. Don't leave your pet in your car unattended and as much as possible, keep your cats indoors. Don't leave your pet tied anywhere outside to wait for you while you run some errands or eat. When you are outdoors, keep your pet on a leash and at home, do not leave your pet unattended in your backyard, especially if they are visible from the street. Keep your gates locked at all times. Keep recent photos of your pets on hand in case they go missing.