Hit & Run

It's Not Just Kids: Pet Safety Paranoia Is a Thing, Too

Much ado about pet kidnappers.

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Lisa Wiedmeier

What's next? Missing pet pictures on milk cartons?

As if we weren't already consumed with fear when it comes to our kids, now the pet industry wants in. There's big money in making us believe we need to monitor our kids' every move and guard against kidnapping, and Big Pet can smell it. Hence, this press release I got:

Valentine's Day is also PET THEFT AWARENESS DAY: [LS: I hope you celebrated!] Here's how to protect your pet, and your heart, from theft.

Imagine how your heart would break if your pet were to go missing — you'd call the neighbors, you'd post "Missing Pet" signs, and when your fur baby doesn't show up, you'd start to fear the worst has happened.

Sadly, pet theft is an ever-increasing problem in the U.S.  Current estimates reveal that 1-in-3 pets will go missing in its lifetime.

Um, proof please? And yeah, of course pets will go missing, just like kids do. That doesn't mean they will be kidnapped. Not all temporarily missing children or pets are crime victims.

Here were the press release's suggestions:

•    A good collar with an ID tag is the first line of defense against pet theft. However, since a collar can break or be pulled off, pets should have permanent identification such as microchipping and tattooing to ensure their safety.

•    NEVER allow your pet to be visible from the street.

•    NEVER leave any animal unattended in your car, even if it is "just for a minute."

The advice goes on and on, and really, if you substitute "child" for "pet" you see the double helix of paranoia. Some of the ideas here were taken directly from the kid safety complex. And some will give that complex new ideas. But the basic point is this: Children and pets are always being watched by someone who can't wait to snatch them. Your job is to be on constant alert, lest you spend the rest of your days putting up, "Lost!" posters.

I especially love the idea that your pet should never be visible from the street. It's like those Facebook warnings that you should peel the family sticker off the back of your car. Because once a predator divines that you, the car-owner, have reproduced, he will know—at last!—where to find a child. All he has to do is follow you home—or wait in the parking lot.

These are the over-the-top fears that end up leading cops to arrest parents who let their kids walk outside unwatched. Pets and kids are presented as the same thing: Vulnerable cuties in constant need of supervision.