February 14th is National Pet Theft Awareness Day
It’s a subject most of us, as pet owners, try not to think about. Up to two million animals are stolen each year. Only about 10% are ever returned home. This is a very common and unfortunate crime that has been a problem for many years.
What happens to stolen pets?
They are used in the following ways:
- Sold to research laboratories
- Fighters or bait in dog-fighting
- Breeders for puppy mills
- Meat for human consumption
- Meat for exotic animals
- Fur for clothing and accessories
- For sale in pet stores
- Dissection Protective guard dogs
- Ritual sacrifice for satanic cults
- Sadistic acts
The USDA and Class B Dealers
The United States Department of Agriculture licenses animal dealers; anyone selling animals to laboratories (or selling more than 24 dogs or cats per year at the wholesale level) must be licensed. Many of the people involved in the sale of stolen animals are licensed by the federal government. Class A dealers maintain their own breeding colonies while class B dealers obtain animals from “random sources.” For a $50 fee, anyone can acquire a USDA Class B dealer license. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) inspectors are responsible for seeing that dealers records are current and complete, and for ensuring the health and safety of the animals. Unfortunately, the USDA has not made the latter a priority, for there is a shortage of inspectors and enforcement of existing regulations is extremely weak.
Where do random source animals come from?
Many are stolen from someones backyards. Others are obtained through Free to a Good Home ads. B Dealers prey on unsuspecting people who can no longer care for their companions. Bunchers acquire animals for free by making fraudulent promises of a good home and tender care, then selling the animals, sometimes the same day, to Class B Dealers. Most will be sold to research facilities, many of which are funded by tax dollars. Researchers prefer to experiment on pets and other animals that have lived with people because they tend to be docile and easy to handle.
What is pound seizure?
Pound seizure, in which animals who arrive at the pound are required by law to be turned over to laboratories for experimentation on demand if they are not reclaimed by their guardian or adopted out, is still in effect in some animal shelters. Some pounds therefore must or choose to sell animals to Class B dealers or research facilities.
Investigations of Class B dealers have revealed:
- Live dogs in cages with dead dogs
- Dogs suffering from parvovirus, distemper, and rectal bleeding
- An open burial pit containing several dog carcasses in various states of decay
- Large dogs in cages with small dogs and female dogs in cages with male dogs, both violations of the Animal Welfare Act
- Live dogs eating dead dogs
LCA Fights Pet Thieves
- LCA set a national precedent when we gathered enough evidence to convict USDA licensed B dealers and co-conspirators for their involvement in a massive pet theft ring for research labs. They were the first B dealers sent to state prison for pet theft as well as the first people to serve a prison sentence for an animal related issue. LCA also assisted in sending two other individuals to federal prison.
- A class B dealers license was permanently revoked for the first time in history as a result of an LCA investigation. Since then, four more dealers have had their licenses revoked.
- LCA introduced the Pet Safety and Protection Act into Congress
What You Can Do to Protect Your Pet
- Keep your pet indoors, especially when you are not at home. Do not leave animals unattended in your yard; it only takes a minute for thieves to steal your pet. Do not let your pet roam free in the neighborhood.
- Remember that indoor cats live longer, safer lives.
- Keep companion animals safely inside your home when you are expecting repair personnel, meter readers, or guests.
- Properly identify your pet with a collar and tag, microchip, and/or tattoo.
- Know where your pet is at all times.
- Maintain up-to-date licenses on your pets.
- Keep recent photos and written descriptions of your companion animals on hand at all times.
- Spay and neuter your pets. Fixed animals are less likely to stray from home.
- Be aware of strangers in the neighborhood. Report anything unusual such as suspicious neighborhood activities or missing pets to the police and animal control.
- Padlock your gate; outdoor dogs should be kept safely behind a locked gate.
- Make sure that your animal is not visible from the street.
- Keep your pet on a leash whenever you go outside.
- Do not tie your pet outside a store to wait for you.
- Never leave an animal unattended in a car.
Finding a Good Home for Your Pet
- If you use Free to a Good Home advertisements to place your pet, talk make sure you know as much as possible about the adoptive home before giving your pet away.
- Dont place an animal until your interview the prospective adopters, visit their home, photocopy their picture i.d., record their drivers license number and license plate number, and check their references.
- Ask prospective adopters about their prior pets, how they would care for and discipline your animal, and the name of their veterinarian.
- Ask the neighbors of potential adopters about the number of animals they have seen coming into and out of the adopters home and related questions
- Have the adopter sign an adoption contract reviewed by a humane organization and pay an adoption fee.
- Do not allow potential adopters to take an animal from your home; always deliver the animal yourself.
- Consider taking your animal to a rescue group or asking rescue group staff how to conduct an adoption on your own.
You Can Help
- Adopt animals from shelters.
- Never buy from pet stores some stores sell stolen pets or animals from puppy mills.
- Spay or neuter your animals and educate others about doing the same. With cats and dogs in such high abundance, dealers have no trouble filling their cages.
- Ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create and enforce regulations to stop pet theft. Write to Dan.Glickman@usda.gov
- If a stolen animal is positively identified in a dealer’s possession, report it to LCA and to USDA officials in your state; ask that the dealer’s records be inspected.
- Educate family, friends, and neighbors about pet theft and what they must do to keep their animals safe.
Last Chance For Animals
8033 Sunset Blvd. #835
Los Angeles, CA 90046
PH: 310-271-6096 FX: 310-271-18