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Home > Dogs > What to Do if Your Dog Is Stolen? 7 Steps to Take & Important Prevention Tips!

What to Do if Your Dog Is Stolen? 7 Steps to Take & Important Prevention Tips!

man stealing a puppy

Each year, about two million pets are stolen. It’s more common than many pet owners realize, and the American Kennel Club noted a 31% increase in recent years 1. These are heartbreaking statistics for any pet owner to read.

Dogs can be stolen from yards, porches, or parked cars for various reasons. They may be stolen for the reward the owner might post on a “Missing” sign, sold for profit, or, worst case, for a fighter or bait dog in a dogfighting operation.

Keep reading this article to get your dog back in the shortest time possible. We will go over vital steps to follow so you can have your best friend back home safe and sound.

divider-dog paw

7 Steps to Take if Someone Steals Your Dog

If your dog has been stolen, follow these steps:

1. File a police report with your local police department.

This may identify your pet if someone has it or if it progresses to a court case. By law, pets are considered property, and all states have laws making pet theft a felony or misdemeanor. Be sure to include detailed information about your dog’s breed, color, markings, distinguishing marks, and microchip number, if applicable.

2. Post your dog to local pet recovery pages on social media and with the local shelters.

Don’t mention that the dog is stolen, but share that it’s lost and provide a recent photo showing your dog. It’s possible that your dog may break away from the thief or that they may abandon it.

3. Call local shelters and vet offices.

woman making a phone call

The thief may abandon your dog at one of these facilities. You should also notify your microchip database provider, your vet, and the local dog warden.

4. Post “Missing Pet” posters in your area.

Again, don’t say that your dog has been stolen. Post a clear photo of your dog and its description, and offer a reward. Don’t say how much the reward will be since profit could motivate the theft.

5. Contact the media, such as radio or newspapers.

Provide a photo of your dog and the reward without stating the amount. If any details may arouse sympathy, such as your dog is your child’s pet or a therapy dog, include them to increase the likelihood that your story will be told.

6. Check the local classifieds—both in print and online—to see if anyone posts your dog for sale.

man reading newspaper
Image Credit:, Shutterstock

If it is, you can call the police. If you choose to buy your dog back, make sure to meet in a public place and don’t offer any money until you physically have your dog. Also, avoid internet scams that claim to have your pet shipped to you—this is a common scam that preys on people who post lost pets forums online.

7. If you spot your dog with someone or in a yard, call the police and give them your case number.

Try to keep track of where the person and dog are, but don’t try to recover it yourself. This can get dangerous quickly, and you could face legal ramifications.


How to Prevent Dog Theft

  • Keep your dog on a leash. A dog running loose can catch the attention of a thief.
  • Watch your dogs, even in your own yard. Dogs left outside unattended can be stolen more easily, especially if your yard is easy to access.
  • Guard your dog’s information. If you’re out on a walk with your dog, don’t volunteer details like your location, the dog’s purebred status, how much you paid, or other information that may be enticing to thieves looking for profit.
  • Never leave your dog in the car unattended. Even if the door is locked, a thief can break the window to access anything in your vehicle, including your dog. It’s also unsafe to leave your dog in the car during hot or cold weather.
  • Don’t tie your dog outside. You may think you’re only stepping inside a store for a minute, but this common practice can leave your dog vulnerable to theft.
  • Be cautious about photographs. While it may seem innocent for people to ask to take a picture of your dog, it can be used for future theft. In addition, some owners include an address on their dog’s tags, which can be inconspicuously photographed and used to find them later.
  • Make your dog trackable. Tags with a name, phone number, address, microchipping, and current veterinary records can help you recover your pet if it’s stolen, abandoned, or lost.


Key Takeaways

Dog theft happens all the time, and as we know, dogs are more than property—they’re part of the family. While theft can be devastating, you can protect your pet with these preventative measures. If your dog is stolen, you have a strategy to ensure that the authorities know and you have the best opportunity to recover your pet.

Most importantly, don’t give up! Keep monitoring classifieds, checking ads, posting flyers, and frequenting lost pet pages. You never know when you may come across your dog or if a thief may develop a conscience and take your dog to a local shelter or vet’s office.

Featured Image Credit: Daisy Daisy, Shutterstock

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