5 Ways Thieves Could Steal Your Dog

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on January 1, 2013. Enjoy!

Sergeant Kenneth Chambers was playing Frisbee with his dog in the parking lot of a Jacksonville, Florida, grocery store recently when lightning struck out of the clear blue sky. The young American veteran, in recovery for post traumatic stress disorder, rolled down the car windows and placed his Australian Shepard/Blue Heeler Mix inside the vehicle just briefly, while he went inside to help his mother with the bags. When he came out moments later, Adalida was gone.

Unfortunately for Sergeant Chambers, and for Adalida, the parking lot scenario placed them in two of the top five high-risk situations for pet theft. And while Sergeant Chamebers’ search continues for Adalida, there are measures that all of us can take to prevent a similar tragedy.

Here are five of the top high-risk pet theft scenarios to avoid: 

1. Dogs in cars

In the blink of an eye, a partially opened window can be forced down or smashed. It takes 20 seconds or less to abduct a dog, and by the time a pet owner returns to the car, their dog is long gone. The American Kennel Club reports a 70 percent rise in dog theft in 2012 and a 40 percent rise the year before. A weak economy has fueled financially motivated dog-napping — and a dog in a car is, quite simply, a sitting duck.

2. Highly prized breeds or dogs with special abilities

A purebred dog or a dog with special skills is a bit like a gold watch. Thieves see dollar signs, and that’s more than enough temptation. Any dog left unattended can be taken, but there is far greater motivation for criminals to walk off with a dog who can bring in a large sum of cash.

3. Pets left in fenced backyards

Everyone loves the convenience of a doggy door — especially criminals. Homeowners who let their pet explore the fenced yard without supervision maintain the illusion of safety, but police departments across the country will tell you that this isn’t enough.

In broad daylight on a single Saturday in November, Corning Animal Shelter Manager Debbie Eaglebarger documented the theft of four Dobermans, four Australian shepherds and two Rottweilers. One neighbor witnessed a man and a woman lure one of the dogs out of a backyard and into their vehicle. All dogs taken that day were purebred, but that is not always the case.

4. Pets left tied in front of businesses

This one may sound like a no-brainer, but particularly in urban areas where pets accompany their owners on errands, it’s not uncommon to find dogs tied up in front of a bank or grocery store. Typically, these are dogs with a gentle demeanor — and that makes them highly susceptible to the commands of a would-be thief.

“Leaving your dog tied up in front of a store is about as ludicrous as leaving your child out front and saying, ‘Wait right there, I’ll be back in 10 minutes,” explains Howard Simpson of Integrated Security and Communications in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts. “Do yourself a favor and realize that there are security risks in even the safest of neighborhoods. Being naive makes you a target.”

5 Strangers in the neighborhood

Any strangers on your property can be a risk to your pets. Whether they are invited contractors, deliverymen or political campaigners, visitors could easily grab a pet during a moment when the homeowner is distracted. In some cases, they are making a mental note of homes with valuable breeds or easy-to-subvert home security that will facilitate a quick dog-napping at a later time. It bears mentioning that it’s not uncommon for cats to jump into the back of truck beds for a snooze and to be unwittingly carried off at the end of the day.

Which breeds are most likely to be stolen?

According to the American Kennel Club, the most stolen dog of 2011 was the Yorkshire terrier, followed by the Pomeranian, Maltese and Boston terrier. Small breeds are targeted by thieves because of their size but also because of their value on the market — a single dog can fetch well over $1,000! Among the large breeds, Labrador retrievers are a frequent target, as well as pit bull terriers and pit bull mixes – perhaps for a much more sinister purpose.

Why do thieves target pets?

1. Bait dogs and laboratory dogs

This is every dog guardian’s worst nightmare. Indeed people involved in dog fighting will gather “bait” dogs to be used as training tools for fighting dogs. It happens in both urban and rural areas, and there has been no measurable decline in dog fighting in recent years. Despite some legislation intended to stop the sale of undocumented dogs to research laboratories, under-the-table sales continue — and, in some countries, these exchanges are not considered a crime.

2. Financially motivated theft

“For the first time ever we’ve seen a trend now where shelters are being broken into and purebred and mixed breed dogs are being stolen,” said Lisa Peterson, spokesperson for the American Kennel Club. In fact, any purebred dog, particularly puppies, is considered a high-value commodity. Even with a microchip, it’s often too late when a pet buyer discovers that they have purchased a stolen dog.  By then, the thief is long gone.

3. Emotionally driven theft

What’s often overlooked are the emotionally motivated crimes that rob dogs of their families. This can happen because the perpetrator feels that a dog is not being properly cared for. Some animal lovers will feel justified in stealing a dog that is tied in front of a store or who gets  loose one day. Other times it’s an act of revenge, and, in many cases, a former romantic partner is considered the prime suspect.

Whatever the scenario or the motivation, dog guardians can best protect their dogs with watchfulness. Never leave a dog unattended. Secure your home, including all doors and windows, to the best of your ability and budget. And be wary of strangers in your neighborhood at all times.

Brought to you by the Harmony Fund, an international animal rescue charity.

Related Stories:

The Neighbor’s Dog Ran to Me for Help

Puppies Saved from Burning House

Dog Lying on Hot Highway for a Week Saved by Trucker’s Tip

Photo Credit: Anthony Ginsbrook/Unsplash

1444 comments

bob Petermann
bob Petermann3 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Mike H
Mike H4 days ago

Dog stealers need a brutal beat down

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Sonia M
Sonia M4 days ago

Interesting article with good reminders thanks for sharing

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heather g
heather g5 days ago

I see many people eating outside restaurants and its easier to have their dog near to them that way. It's unfortunate that others regard your pet as a valuable commodity they can sell.

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Maria PETRILLO
Maria PETRILLO6 days ago

I live my dog a home wane I go some ware.

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Maria PETRILLO
Maria PETRILLO6 days ago

iiiii

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Jacqueline L

Very informative! Thanks!

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Jacqueline L

Very informative! Thanks!

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maria r
maria reis7 days ago

Its awful. The world became so strange. I mean, the mankind.

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Janet B
Janet B7 days ago

Thanks

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