With a rise in pet snatching, here’s how to keep your pooch safe

Earlier this month, a mix-breed shih tzu was snatched in Gurgaon by two men on a bike. The dog’s parents announced a reward of `1 lakh and shared posters to find the stolen pet. Soon, the dog was found after an anonymous tip.
The incident has renewed the focus on pet snatchings in NCR, something that resurfaces every few months in the region. Many such incidents have happened over the years, which is why it’s important to be vigilant when you walk your pet outside. Animal activists, pet parents and those working for animal welfare share precautions that you should take to avoid pet snatching.

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From illegal breeding to sale of expensive dogs, reasons why dogs are snatched Kaveri Rana Bhardwaj, President, People For Animals (PFA) Gautam Buddh Nagar, says, “The main focus of snatching is on illegal breeding. Pet parents should get their pets sterilised, as such dogs are of no use to any breeder. Also, snatchings happen when someone is keeping an eye on you or when someone close to you is giving information about your dog.” Amit Chaudhery, founder and steward of Earth Quotient, and former president, PFA Gurgaon, adds that some dogs are snatched by those looking for fancy breeds. “If someone wants a pedigree dog and not want to pay for it, they’ll snatch or steal someone’s dog,” he says.

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Chetna Joshi, an animal activist from Gurgaon, says, “Getting a chip implanted in pets is essential, but not many understand the importance of this. However, this alone isn’t the solution. Even if a dog is chipped, authorities generally do not have sensors to track it. So, they also need to create a basic infrastructure so that stolen dogs can be tracked without delay. Most importantly, illegal back-alley breeders need to checked because they usually orchestrate snatchings.”
Pravin Kora from a pet boarding service in Gurgaon says that the need of dogs for dog fights, and kidnappings for ransom are other major reasons behind pet snatching.

Offering a Reward helps in cases of pet snatching
A stolen dog is usually found through an anonymous tip. This is where rewards help a lot. “People will never do something for free. When you add the money angle, you are giving them a point of interest. Otherwise, your dog is of no interest to them. Domestic helps help a lot in tracking a dog in such cases,” says Kaveri Rana Bhardwaj from PFA.
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Amit Chaudhery from Earth Quotient adds, “If the animal is stolen, a police complaint must be done. We help people with police complaints; posters are made in Hindi and English, offering people a handsome amount in case the pet is found, and these are circulated around places where you suspect (the pet might be found). Lastly, inform RWAs, social media and animal groups. The strategy is to put up posters, give a phone number and you’ll certainly get a call. But you should not go alone, take cops or four-five people.”

Precautions to take to avoid pets’ snatching
Pets are most vulnerable if they are walking alone outside. “The other time they’re vulnerable is when they are with dog walkers. I can’t trust my dog with a walker. And these incidents happen only with pedigree and imported dogs,” says Kaveri. Talking about how one can be better prepared in such a situation, Amit shares, “I’d say attach a microchip to your pet. If you microchip your animal, it can be easily traced no matter where the dog is taken. And there are some elementary precautions that one can follow. For instance, if someone is trailing you or coming behind you or sideways on a two-wheeler, hold your pet tight, change your direction and tighten the leash. Also, carry a walking stick so that it can be used to shoo them away. If the dog is snatched, take a picture of the registration number of the vehicle, and the culprit will be caught within minutes. Taking a picture of the vehicle will anyway help.”
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Changing your route and timings can also help. Pravin says, “Don’t go to desolate areas to walk your pet, and do a background check of your walker. Tell them to be vigilant, focus on the dog and not get busy with phone calls, etc. Another important thing is to not update your location on social media. People have public accounts of their pets, and they update their real-time location, which makes it easy for anyone to snatch your pet. Along with this, how you hold the leash and the type of collar you have also plays an important role in avoiding such incidents.”

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Timings and area for walks also important: Pet parents
South Delhi resident Amisha Kumar, who has three dogs, says, “Early morning or late evening walk in places where there aren’t many people around is risky. Smaller dogs are more at risk – bigger ones can handle themselves to an extent.” In many cases, pet parents say that decisions like choosing an accommodation is also done after taking into consideration the dogs’ safety. Siddhant Chauhan, a pet parent from Gurgaon, tells us, “Even things like where we want to live are determined, to an extent, by the thought of our dogs’ safety. We live in a gated society, so it’s safe to take the dogs for a walk. Often, we have thought about moving to a more open place, but most such places are in slightly remote localities. In such a scenario, taking the dogs for a walk can be dangerous.”

End of the article

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