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Dognapping: 8 Things to Do if Someone Steals Your Dog

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on January 30, 2024 by Dogster Team

Male Criminal Stealing Or Dognapping Puppy During Health Lockdown

Dognapping: 8 Things to Do if Someone Steals Your Dog

We love our pets, often as our children, so one of the worst experiences a pet parent can have is finding out their beloved animal has gone missing. When it comes to dogs, dognapping has been on the rise in the past couple of years (remember when Lady Gaga’s dogs were dognapped?1). Having your pup taken, possibly right in front of you, can be frightening and traumatizing. But what do you do in this situation?

If your canine is dognapped, then there are steps you should take immediately that can hopefully get them back sooner rather than later. Below, you’ll find a step-by-step guide for what to do if someone steals your dog and tips on how to help prevent dognapping in the first place. With these, you can keep your pup safer than ever.

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Why Do People Dognap Dogs?

Dognapping can happen for various reasons, but the most common reason a pup is taken is that the person stealing them is hoping they can make money from them somehow. They may hope they can take your dog without you noticing, then return it for a reward. Or they could hope that your pet is a purebred who can be re-sold to another for a profit or sold to a puppy mill. For larger dog breeds, a dognapper may hope they can sell them to a dog fighting ring.

Step-by-Step Guide for What to Do if Someone Steals Your Dog

So, what exactly should you do if you find your dog has been stolen? Here’s a look at the steps you should take in the immediate aftermath.

1. Don’t let panic overwhelm you.

You’re going to panic (how could you not?) but don’t let that panic get so overwhelming that you can’t think of what step to take next to try and get your pet back.

Worried young woman sitting on sofa
Image Credit: fizkes, Shutterstock

2. If your pet has a tracker on them, immediately turn on the GPS tracking.

The best-case scenario is that your dog has simply wandered away, and with this, you should be able to locate them fairly quickly.

3. Contact your neighbors.

If you’re in your own neighborhood and find your dog missing, talk to your neighbors to see if they have seen your pup. You can also print out missing flyers with a picture of your dog to post around the neighborhood.

Neighbors standing at the fence talking
Image Credit: Koldunova Anna, Shutterstock

4. Plaster social media with pictures of your dog.

You want to let everyone know they are missing. You’ll have a far wider network, keeping an eye out for your pet by utilizing social media.

5. Contact the police to file a report.

If you know for certain that your pet has been dognapped, it is time to reach out to authorities. If you saw who did it, be sure to give that information to the police. If you didn’t see who it was, see if any witnesses did see your dog taken and find out if they are willing to make a statement.

young policeman questioning woman at police station
Image Credit: Ground Picture, Shutterstock

6. Reach out to shelters.

Contact your local pet rescue or shelter to see if your dog has been brought in.

7. Reach out to media stations.

Finally, if you’re having trouble making headway with the above when it comes to dognapping, then contact your local media stations to see if they would be willing to do a story on your pup being stolen. This way, you can reach even more people.

There are also a couple of things you should not do if your pet has been taken:
  • Don’t offer a reward. Technically, it is up to you if you want to offer a reward for a missing animal, but many organizations recommend against it as a dognapper could have stolen your dog precisely to make money off of you. If you decide to give a reward for the return of your pup, be wary and verify that anyone coming forward with information is who they say they are and that they have the information (or your dog) before handing them money.
  • Be aware of scammers. Be cautious of people who contact you asking for a reward in exchange for returning your dog (particularly if you haven’t offered a reward). Many times, scam artists will take advantage of vulnerable people.

8. Check registration databases.

If your dog is registered, contact the database they are registered in; this way, if someone tries to re-register your pup, they’ll be better able to catch it.


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How to Protect Your Dog From Dognapping

There’s no guarantee that you can protect your pup from being dognapped, but there are definitely steps you can take to ensure they are better protected. Have a look at these tips to reduce the risk of your canine pal getting stolen.

  • The most obvious way to keep your dog safer is to never leave them unattended! Even if your dog is just in your backyard, something could happen if you aren’t watching them.
  • Install a security system with a camera in your home. This way, if your dog disappears from the yard or home, you’ll have a better idea if they were stolen or simply wandered away.
  • Have your pet fixed. If a dognapper is looking for dogs to sell to puppy mills, those dogs will have to be unsterilized. Getting your pet fixed makes your dog less appealing to dognappers.
  • Have your pet microchipped, and ensure they are wearing up-to-date ID tags.
  • Consider using GPS tracking with your dog. You can get collars that utilize GPS; someone stealing your pup will likely remove the collar at some point, but at least you’ll have some idea of where your dog last was.
  • Vary your daily walking routine, and stay aware of your surroundings. Going on the same exact walk at the same time every day makes it more likely that someone can find your pet if they want to steal them. And by being wary of your surroundings, you’re more likely to spot someone acting suspiciously or following you. You might even want to make a habit of walking with a friend.
  • Do your research if you are going to use a pet-care provider. If you need a dog walker or sitter, be sure you research them to see how responsible they really are. Also, go with someone who is insured, and always check all references!
Checking Dog Microchip
Image Credit: olgagorovenko, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Having your dog go missing is a horrible experience, but having your pet stolen is a terrifying one. If you think your pet has been dognapped, follow the steps above to better your chances of finding them again. Also, consider utilizing the tips above to protect your dog from being dognapped. The safer your pup is in the first place, the less likely they’ll be taken!

Featured Image Credit: Daisy Daisy, Shutterstock

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