HOUSTON CO., Ga. -- The American Kennel Club reports pet theft is on the rise nationwide.
A volunteer from at the Humane Society of Houston County says she's taking matters into her own hands by installing surveillance footage and securing a fence around her house.
Jennifer Gilliam says her animals are more than just companions.
"My pets are an extension of my family," she says. "My son probably wouldn't be too happy, but to me, they mean the same to me as he does."
After volunteering at a humane society and realizing pet theft can happen anywhere, Gilliam doesn't take any chances.
"The camera shows my backyard," she said. "Even when I'm inside the house. I can pull it up on my TV. And I also have one on the side that goes to the gate -- I keep it padlocked on it. It's really never unlocked unless I'm going in and out of it during the day."
Gilliam says she also has special fencing so people can't see her dogs from the outside.
The American Kennel Club recommends not leaving your dogs unattended outside at all. They say if your yard is visible from a street and your dog is alone, they're a target.
The AKC also says when you're traveling with your dog, don't leave it tied outside a store or in a car by itself.
"People worry about hot weather in cars," Matthew Roquemore said. "So as the weather gets cooler or they crack their window, they leave their air conditioning on and they think they don't have anything to worry about. But it takes a second for someone to smash a window or pry a window open and steal your dog."
Roquemore says he didn't realize how much of a problem this can be, but will now be more careful.
Sonya Adams with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office Animal Enforcement division tells says theft isn't as likely in Macon-Bibb.
She says sometimes its hard to prove if a dog has been stolen, because when a dog is alone, there usually aren't witnesses.