Up to two million animals are stolen each year. Only about 10% are ever returned home.
My family loves to see pet owners out and about with their pets. Unfortunately, we no longer live in a time when you can tie up your pup outside a store while you pop inside for a moment. If you do, you run the very real risk that your pup may not be there when you return.
The number of dogs reported lost or stolen is on the rise and there is a growing market for these stolen dogs. Sadly, very few arrests are made relating to dog thefts and then only a tiny % actually lead to convictions. And minimum sentences can be as little as community service or a fine.
Most Sought After
Dogs with the highest value for resale and breeding are the ones most sought after. Pedigree dog breeds can be worth hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars. The most sought after dogs are breeds like French bulldogs and Chihuahuas, and those with unusual colors.
Labrador retrievers and springer and cocker spaniels are also highly-prized breeding dogs – but some are also stolen to become bait dogs for illegal dogfighting.
Most dog thefts are not preplanned. Dogs left unattended outside stores, or in cars and yards are most often targeted. However, there is a rise in the number of dogs being grabbed from unsuspecting owners while out for a walk or stolen during house and kennel break-ins.
Reduce the Risk
- Make sure your home is secure, including good window and door locks. Don’t leave your dog unattended in the yard. Yards where dogs are visible pose a higher risk of theft, but even those that appear secure can be entered by determined thieves.
- Don’t leave your dog unattended outside of stores or in your car, even for a short period. Lockable dog crates can be an additional deterrent but a good rule of thumb is to treat your dog as you would your wallet or phone.
- When letting your dog off the leash, make sure they obey your call back immediately and try to keep them in sight at all times. If you’re unsure of a situation, call them back and put them back on the leash. If your dog doesn’t listen to your come back command very well, keep them on a leash in open and non-secure spaces.
- Avoid giving information about your dog to strangers, and report any suspicious activity. If you feel unsafe, try to arrange group walks with friends or neighbors.
- Get your dog implanted with a microchip containing up-to-date owner details. If your dog is found or brought to a shelter, you have a better chance of being reunited with him/her.
- Put a tracking device on their collar. I have a friend who can see the exact route her dog takes when he breaks through the invisible fencing she has in the yard. This is a great way to know where your dog is ALL the time.
If the worst case scenario should happen and your dog is stolen, notify the police, the dog warden, local vets, rescue centers and the microchip company. Social media has led to many success stories, too. Make sure you have clear photos of your dog from multiple angles.
Being aware of this rising problem will help you to minimize the risks of your dog’s theft… He/She is your Best Friend!