Research in the U.S shows that dog theft figures have trebled in recent years. The U.K is experiencing the same increase too. Why do people do it and how can you protect yourself and your dog from this heartache?
Firstly and obviously money is the primary reason. Stealing a dog off the streets, from pet stores or from a park and then selling them on to unsuspecting buyers is becoming a popular practise. People rarely disbelieve that someone’s a fake dog breeder. They have no reason to be suspicious. A buyer is usually only interested in the new dog’s health, have they been vaccinated etc and the cheap price they’ve managed to pay. A thief will easily obtain fake documents off the internet and lie to you about the animals health and vet visits. Once you’ve paid it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever be able to get hold of them again.
A lot of one off sales from drug users to dog fighters happen because of the need for fighting dogs for the illegal practise of dog baiting that sadly still goes on. It doesn’t matter to these disgusting people if the dog won’t fight, it’ll be good for bait for the other dog to practise on. Sick, but very true.
Particular breeds are going to be a target for different reasons. Lurchers are sold on for hunting, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and similar breeds for fighting and the smaller breeds like Yorkshire Terriers are quick and easy to steal and can fetch a nice profit. Breeding is another reason for dog theft and if the dog has been spayed then they can just sell it on anyway.
U.K animal charity Dog Lost works tirelessly to reunite lost and stolen dogs with their owners.
The charity's founder, Jane Hayes says "It's rising and rising, and probably due to the recession," she says "It's a good way to make money because owners will pay anything to get their dogs back. One owner paid £25,000 and had to remortgage the family house."
Thieves are well aware how much pets are loved and if they can tap into the heartbreak of losing a beloved member of the family they will ransom it for as much as possible.
Sadly some people just take an animal because they want it. I heard about an elderly man in my town who lived on a very tight budget but truly loved his cat. He always made sure his cat had food was groomed and vaccinated. When his cat was stolen he was devastated and never really recovered. I had my suspicions as to who had done this but nothing could be proven. The person I suspected would have given the cat a beautiful life but this was no justification for taking him from his owner. Poor or not the cat was loved and very well looked after. People often think they can sit in judgement of other people’s lifestyles, but rarely enquire properly as to their circumstances.
Below are some tips on keeping your dog safe.
Don’t leave your dog tied up outside when you’re shopping. It sounds obvious but people do it all the time. No one would leave their child on a leash outside a shop and when we park our bikes before shopping we usually make sure they are securely chained up. So why think your dog will be safe. It won’t.
Don’t leave your dog alone in a car. If someone sees an opportunity they won’t think twice about smashing your car window in if it means they’ll get money.
Do listen to your instincts. It’s always right. Be suspicious if someone is paying too much attention to your dog, asking too many questions. You don’t have to be rude but be aware of who’s around you at all times.
Don’t lose sight of your dog in the park and keep a watchful eye out for anybody suspiciously hanging around.
Do microchip your dog immediately.
Don’t buy a stolen pet even if you think you’re getting a great deal. You will only be helping this vicious circle to continue.
Do get a new pet checked out at the vet if you’re suspicious about their history.
Don’t buy pets from the internet. You will never truly know their past.
Always thoroughly check out a breeder before committing to buying an animal and if possible try to rehome an animal from a rescue centre.