Valentine’s Day holds a dual significance for pet lovers around the globe. It’s a day filled with love not just for our human companions but also for our cherished pets. However, this affectionate occasion also serves as Pet Theft Awareness Day. PTAD was created in 1988 by Last Chance for Animals, a U.S. non-profit animal rights organization, to bring awareness to the high number of stolen pets each year. According to Last Chance for Animals, each year about 2 million pets are stolen in the U.S. This day coincides with Valentine’s Day, reinforcing the message that our love for pets also entails a responsibility to ensure their safety and security.


Recent reports have highlighted the grim reality of pet theft. An estimated 10 million dogs and cats are reported missing annually, with less than 20% being recovered. This statistic underscores the urgent need for preventive measures, such as microchipping and maintaining secure environments, to enhance the likelihood of reuniting lost pets with their owners. Additionally, the rise in pet adoptions during the pandemic has unfortunately led to an increase in pet theft, further stressing the importance of vigilance among pet owners.

A notable study has revealed that 70% of US households are at risk for pet theft, with dogs being the most common victims. The emotional toll on pet owners is substantial, emphasizing the necessity of taking steps to protect pets. Breeds like French Bulldogs, Yorkshire Terriers, and Chihuahuas are particularly targeted due to their small size, high cost, and limited availability, with stolen dogs fetching prices as high as $15,000.


The reasons behind pet theft are varied, ranging from resale to puppy mills, collection of rewards from owners, to more nefarious purposes such as use in illegal activities. This variety in motives further complicates efforts to curb pet theft and underscores the need for comprehensive strategies to protect pets. It’s also noted that one-third of all American dogs and cats go missing in their lifetimes, with small breeds, cats, and birds being the most common victims due to their ease of theft. In light of these statistics, it’s clear that pet theft is a significant issue that requires attention and action from pet owners.


Pet thefts can happen anywhere, but they are more common in public places such as parks, streets, and even from the pet owner’s backyard. Thieves may also target animals left in cars or outside stores. The timing of these thefts can vary, though they may be more likely to occur during the day when pets are left alone or at night in less secure areas.


chihuahuas are highly sought after pet theftCertain dog breeds are more frequently stolen due to their high value, either for resale as pets, for breeding purposes, or even for use in illegal dog fighting. Small breeds and purebreds, particularly those like French Bulldogs, Yorkshire Terriers, and Chihuahuas, are highly targeted. These breeds are often chosen because of their size, making them easier to steal, and their high purchase prices on the market. Purebred dogs, especially toy breeds, puppies, and designer breeds such as Labradoodles, are sought after due to their high resale value.


The motivations behind pet theft are varied and include:

  • Financial Gain: The most common reason is the potential for profit, either by selling the pet to new owners, demanding a ransom from the original owner, or selling the pet to puppy mills or pet stores.
  • Breeding: Purebred and unaltered pets may be stolen for breeding purposes, with thieves looking to profit from selling the puppies.
  • Dog Fighting: Sadly, some dogs are stolen to be used as bait in dog fighting rings.
  • Personal Desire: In some cases, individuals may steal a pet simply because they want that type of animal and do not wish to pay for it.


French bulldog puppy are common stolen pet theft

The irony of pet theft occurring while many animals are euthanized in shelters each year is stark. This paradox can be partially explained by the thieves’ motives, primarily driven by profit rather than a desire to provide a home for an animal. Many stolen pets are breeds that can fetch high prices on the market, whereas shelter animals may not have the same perceived “value.” Additionally, the demand for specific breeds or “designer” pets often overshadows the adoption of mixed-breed animals from shelters.

Despite the abundance of animals in need of homes, the desire for specific breeds, the allure of puppies, or the status associated with certain types of pets can drive the market for stolen animals. This underscores the importance of promoting shelter adoptions, spaying and neutering pets to prevent unwanted litters, and educating the public about the value of all types of pets, not just those with a high price tag or pedigree.


Microchip Your Pet: A fundamental yet crucial measure for pet identification and recovery. Microchipping is inexpensive and gives a lifetime of peace of mind. All shelters and rescues scan for microchips with new intakes.  It’s important to remember to keep your contact information up to date with the microchip provider. 

Secure Your Home and Garden: Prevent easy access to your pets by ensuring your property is well-secured. Locked gates and security cameras can restrict access and provide peace of mind.

Leash and Supervise: Never leave pets unattended in public places. Never tie your dog’s leash to something while you run in a store or use the restroom. 

Social Media Caution: Be mindful of sharing too much information about your pets online, especially your location.

Use a GPS Tracker: For real-time monitoring of your pet’s location. GPS collars such as FI allow you to use app to stay constantly connected to your dog while also offering Lost Dog mode that will notify other FI owners in the area as well as turn a light on the color for easier visibility in dark conditions.

Vet Your Pet Sitters: Only use reputable pet sitting services offering a Meet & Greet before your scheduled visits. Reputable companies like VIP have the highest standards when vetting pet sitters, from extensive interviews, references and background checks. This ensures both you and your pet are comfortable and safe with the pet sitter. 

Participate in Community Watch Programs: There’s strength in numbers when looking out for each other’s pets. Many Facebook pages and groups exist in every locale that are dedicated to quickly moving information about missing or lost and found animals in your area. Look for groups by searching “city name” and LOST PETS, such as Dallas Lost Pets or Lost Pets of Austin. 

Keep a Recent Photo: Essential for identification in case your pet is stolen. Your pet doesn’t need its own Instagram for you to take frequent photos of your pet in daylight that show their coloring and characteristics clearly.

Spay/Neuter Your Pet: Reduces the likelihood of theft for breeding purposes. Animals who are fixed are also less likely to roam far from home in search of a mate. 

Be Aware of Strangers: Stay vigilant about anyone taking an undue interest in your pet. Pay attention to a new person repeatedly walking by and lingering near your home, especially when your pet is outdoors. 


As we celebrate the bonds we share with our pets this Valentine’s Day, let’s also commit to their safety and well-being. By adopting preventive measures and staying informed, we can protect our pets from theft and ensure they are happy and healthy as long as possible. Pet Theft Awareness Day is a reminder of the risks our pets face and a call to action to cherish and safeguard them every day. From microchipping to keeping a keen eye on our beloved companions, every small step counts in keeping them from harm’s way.

While we’re talking about keeping them safe, don’t forget that Valentine’s Day chocolates and flowers, though sweet gestures of love for humans, can be dangerous for our pets. Curious about how to keep your furry Valentine safe amidst all the celebrations? Check out our blog on “Valentine’s Day Safety Tips for Your Pet” for all the dos and don’ts to ensure your pets a safe and joyous day.

And if your day is packed with plans, don’t fret about leaving your pets alone. VIP Pet Services offers top-notch pet sitting and dog walking services, giving your pets the care and attention they deserve while you’re away. Our professional team is here to ensure your pets are safe, happy, and well-cared for, so you can enjoy your Valentine’s Day worry-free. 

Remember, love is not just about affection; it’s also about keeping our beloved pets safe and protected, not just today, but every day. Let’s make this Valentine’s Day a celebration of love in all its forms!

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