Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Pet Theft and Class B Dealers


I’m sure everyone gets sick of the numbers; they’re like evil talismans in the world of animal rights education. 10 billion animals killed for food every year in the United States, if you aren’t counting the aquatic animals that are killed for human consumption. 10 million animals are killed by shelters every year. But here is one that is less known – 2 million companion animals are stolen every year. 10% are returned home.

The list of possible fates for these animals is a horrible one. They could be slaughtered for meat, turned into fur trim, bred at puppy mills, trained for dog fights, sold for dissection, or the worst of the worst – they could be sold to research laboratories.

abbyThis last possibility is what is on my mind tonight, sparked by a thoughtless person who acquired a couple of kittens, had them declawed not knowing what it entailed, and now just a few months later is looking for a “good home” for them because it just isn’t working out. She treats the entire situation with a careless disregard that is horrifying when you think of where these kittens could end up.

On a public message board she offered these kittens to whoever would take them, and I have no illusions about how strenuously she would question anyone who wanted to take them off her hands. I don’t think she would question them at all. And this is a situation that is ideal for the class B dealers to use when they acquire animals for the research laboratories.

Of course that is not the only way they acquire them. Many pounds and shelters work with these class B dealers, giving them great “rates” on wholesale adoption of the cats and dogs unlucky enough to end up at the “shelters”. In many cases there is no effort made to reconnect these dogs and cats with their actual human caretakers before they’re sold to a horrible death at the hands of the research laboratories.

In Denver RMAD was able to work with the shelters and got them to agree not to sell to class B dealers. That is good news, when it works. However there are also these 2 million documented cases per year of “pet theft”, sometimes out of people’s yards. 2 million a year. That is almost 5500 stolen every day.

Last Chance for Animals worked for 15 years on a campaign against a particular Class B dealer, and they finally won. There are others out there, though, and there is still a huge demand for the companion animals supplied by these dealers.

LCA has some advice for preventing your companion animal from being stolen by these unscrupulous businesses:

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.

They also have some good advice on finding homes for the companion animals you can’t keep. The least you can do is put this effort in, and make sure that the people around you do the same.

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.

  • Don’t place an animal until your interview the prospective adopters, visit their home, photocopy their picture i.d., record their driver’s 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 adopter’s 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.

I see my neighbors walking their dogs all the time. I can see the care and the dedication and the love they have for each other. Hopefully they won’t be among the victims of pet theft. Yet the vast majority of them probably support the research itself. Without getting into the ethics, or lack thereof, of using animals in research, the truth is that it is a waste. A waste of a life, which we don’t have the moral right to take from them, but also a waste of time and resources. If you want to know a drug’s effect on humans, you’re not going to figure it out by giving it to a dog. But don’t trust me, read Specious Science.


2 responses to “Pet Theft and Class B Dealers

  1. Rich December 19, 2006 at 10:17 pm

    Another excellent post. I have to admit that Class B dealers are something I only recently learned about, but I was aware of pet thieves. It was common for dogs and cats to disappear and be used in dog fight training in NYC in the 80′ and 90’s. But we all need to make sure our companions are protected and we should arm ourselves with the knowledge to help stop the thieves.
    Thank you for the links.

  2. Deb December 19, 2006 at 10:45 pm

    Thanks for the comment. I first heard about the class b dealers through discussions on veganfreaks, and then the podcast they did (which i can’t find in the archive!) back in Feb of this year…probably the same time you heard about them! 🙂

    It horrifies me what people will do. I hadn’t realized that dog fights had been common in nyc in the 80’s and 90’s. But yes, regardless of what purpose the thieves have, we need to be aware of
    these potential dangers and how to prevent them. We have to protect our companions – we’re all they have.

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