Protect your pet

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A play day at the dog park for this Pomeranian, four-month-old Oscar. It's his first time in a pen with pups triple his size, but never out of his mama's sight.

"He is a mama's boy," said dog owner Lindsay Edling.

Even while Lindsay Edling is watching her little boy, someone else could be waiting for her eyes to wander.

"A lot of the small dogs are ones that get stolen, puppies of larger breeds," said Debbie Pierson of Companion Animal Alliance.

Pierson says small breeds like Oscar are the ones likely to disappear from parks or even your home. Make no mistake, large breeds are also stolen. For example, Pierson says it's common for pit bulls to be stolen and used as bait dogs.

This time last year, the American Kennel Club logged 224 pets had been stolen nationwide by August 2011, compared to 150 at the same time in 2010.

A spokesperson with the AKC said pets were disappearing during home invasions; dogs were snatched when left in cars and when pups were at the park.

Animal activists suggest micro-chipping your furry friends. A chip smaller than a grain of rice is put under the dog's skin. If ever they are stolen or lost, and show up at a vet or rescue group, they can be scanned to find out who their real owner is.
"We reunited a poodle who had a chip, the lady said where's the schnauzer with him where's he? I said I don't know, but I checked Craigslist and found the schnauzer also," said Pierson.

That's another place Pierson cautions, saying stolen dogs can be posted for sale on sites like Craigslist. She adds nationally, the likelihood of a pet being reunited without the chip is less than 20 percent; in Baton Rouge the number is lower, but sometimes, it does happen.

"We reunited two yorkies within space of a month.  One had been stolen a year previously.  One stolen three years previously.  In one case it was the wonderful pet of a young child who's autistic, who'd been petting a pic of the dog since it was taken," said Pierson.

So if your pet is stolen, posting fliers complete with a picture and information works, even social media can help, but that microchip can never be removed.

Pierson also says there are GPS collars that can track dogs, but a thief can easily take off the collar. Micro-chips can also be used on cats; all you have to do is keep a current address registered.

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