Residents of the New York metropolitan area became aware of "Willie" - the subject of a massive doghunt. Willie, the 12 year-old yellow Labrador Retriever of school superintendent William McDonald, was stolen along with Mr. McDonald's 1982 Datsun early in October. Although the car has never been recovered, we're happy to report that exactly a month to the day after he was abducted, Willie - 10 pounds lighter and weary from his experience - was happily reunited with his owner! Thanks to the kindness and compassion of Police Officer Peter Doolan, who found Willie tied-up and abandoned in a totally different county, this story has a happy ending.
Sadly, there are far too few happy endings. Auto thefts involving pets are one facet of pet disappearances. A major factor in pet abductions is the huge black market for animals.
Catnapping and dognapping are a grim reality.
Today there are additional reasons and incentives for thieves to focus their attention on pet animals. We've recently seen a new trend develop - drug dealers stealing small dogs and cats. They use them to antagonize their larger guard dogs - to teach them to viciously maul and kill moving things. By using these barbaric training techniques, the dealers insure their dogs' vicious behavior towards rival drug dealersand police. And who hasn't heard of some incident in which religious cults have used animal sacrifices. I know these are not pretty thoughts but their recitation may be just the motivation you need to safeguard your beloved four-footed family members. Remember, prevention now could save you, your family and your pets from a lot of heart break.
PREVENTATIVE STEPS TO SAFEGUARD YOUR PETS
1. Never leave your pets unattended in any area where there's easy access to them. This includes leaving them alone in cars - even if the car is locked (remember the story of Willie), or tied up outside the store.
2. If your pet has an enclosed yard or a run,be sure there are locks that only you can open.
3. Pets should not be allowed in the front yard without supervision. Front yard fencing tends to be low, making it easy for a passerby to reach over and quickly grab a pet.
4. Even if there are no leash laws in your municipality, dogs should never be allowed to
run free. They can be scooped up and stolen much too easily.
5. Don't assume that since you have a big dog he's safe. Large dogs, especially purebreds such as Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds, are particularly in demand among black marketeers. You see, dogs are sold by the pound at animal auctions - the heavier the dog, the more money he brings the seller.
6. Be sure your pet is wearing up-to-date ID tags (featuring a phone number that is always manned or has an answering machine) and/or is registered with a pet registry. And please make sure they are microchipped.