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Thieves Are Taking ‘Brazen Action’ to Steal Pets Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Adoption Non-Profit Warns

Pets are being stolen not just from backyards but also from people who are out walking.

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(PRESS RELEASE) LOS ANGELES — Adopt-a-Pet.com, North America’s largest non-profit pet-adoption web service, issued a warning for pet owners: Increased demand for pets during COVID-19 is creating opportunities for thieves to profit.

Americans are desperate for animal companionship during COVID-19 lockdowns, and at the same time, supply has fallen in many parts of the country. Thieves are taking brazen action to steal dogs, not just from backyards but also from people who are out walking their dogs. And those dogs are then being sold, sometimes on street corners, but sometimes on classified sites.

The media is reeling from recent reports of pop star Lady Gaga’s beloved dogs being the latest celebrity victims of pet thieves, but the non-profit warns this is happening every day to pets from all walks of life.

“As reports of violent pet theft rise around the nation, it’s important for pet owners to be vigilant,” says Adopt-a-Pet.com Chief Operating Officer Abbie Moore. “At the same time, we call on online classified sites to up their screening game when accepting posts of pets for sale. Pet owners need powerful allies in this fight to protect their pets.”

As far as preventive measures go, Adopt-a-Pet.com suggests pet owners:

  • Never leave pets unattended in yards or tied up outside stores.
  • Be careful posting photos of pets on social media. Thieves are on the lookout for dogs and your social media posts may also gives clues to your location and daily habits.
  • Be alert when walking. Pay attention to your surroundings. Thieves prey on people who are distracted by their phones.
  • Pair up with other pet owners in your neighborhood for socially distanced walks, if possible.
  • Make sure microchips are registered and have up-to-date contact information associated.
  • Consider taking an online self-defense class.

Finally, Adopt-a-Pet.com has a message for prospective pet buyers.

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“If you’re buying a pet from a classified ad or from an unknown seller and you suspect this may be a stolen pet, stay in touch with the seller and contact your local law enforcement immediately,” says Moore. “You can also check for lost pet ads that match the pet’s description. You’ll potentially be saving someone a big broken heart.”

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