The term hot dog is gaining a whole new meaning these days.
According to the American Kennel Club and other sources, dog thefts are more common than ever. Fueled by higher prices for purebred dogs (among other factors), dog thefts have gone up by about 70% in recent years. Thieves are snatching dogs from parks, beaches, vehicles, backyards, homes, and wherever else dogs are left alone for any period of time. In a few notorious cases, dogs have even been ripped from the arms of their owners.
Take this brazen example recently caught on video, in which a man tries to steal a service dog from a disabled woman on a bus in broad daylight:
This attempted dognapping was thwarted due to the woman’s tenacity in holding onto the leash. However, other cases haven’t had such happy endings. Sometimes thieves take dogs in order to extort a “reward” from the owner. But more often, the dog is “flipped” (sold to a third party) for a quick profit.
Increasingly, stolen dogs wind up on Craigslist, where they’re hawked to people looking for purebred dogs at a steep discount. In a few cases, dog owners have been able to get their pets back by contacting the website or even posing as potential buyers. As reported on the website Life With Dogs, an Indiana family recently pulled off their own sting operation after they found their stolen dog advertised on Craigslist.
Believe it or not, there’s an even uglier side to dog flipping. Dogs may be stolen by – or sold to – unscrupulous puppy mill operators, research facilities, or people (we use the term loosely here) who run dog fights.
One of the most vexing things about dog theft is that the human victims often don’t even realize a crime has been committed. They may think their dog has simply run away, and a clever dog thief may reinforce that notion by leaving a gate open. Dogs have even been taken by dogsitters, who simply report that the dog escaped while they were watching it.
Experts recommend a variety of commonsense steps to deal with dognapping. Here are some of the biggies:
Don’t leave your dog in the backyard unattended. Most dog owners worry about their dogs getting out of the backyard; not enough worry about thieves getting in. The backyard is no place to leave your dog while you’re away from home.
Get your dog microchipped. Having a microchip implanted in your dog may not stop the theft in the first place, but it can definitely help in recovering your dog. The microchip contains a registry number, which can be matched to your contact info – provided you keep it up to date.
In general, protect your dog like you would a human child. You wouldn’t leave your child outside a store while you shopped, let them out of your sight in a park or at the beach, or reveal lots of information about them to an inquisitive stranger. In light of the very real threat of canine theft, you should exercise the same sort of caution with your dog.
People who have younger dogs, smaller dogs, and purebreds should be particularly on guard against canine theft. However, it’s important to note that any dog can be taken. There are even examples of dogs being stolen from shelters.