Stolen Dogs On the Rise | University Animal Hospital NYC

Did you ever think your dog would be stolen from you? It’s a frightening thought. Imagine you run out to the corner deli to grab some ice cream. You decide to bring your fuzzy child along with you for the walk. You tie your pooch up to the street sign directly outside the door to the deli. He seems happy enough to wait a few minutes while you grab some supplies. You emerge with a bag of goodies, in under five minutes, and you’re greeted with just an empty leash.
This scenario isn’t such a rarity, unfortunately. It isn’t just an amusing plot device in a Woody Harrelson movie, either.
It’s a pet-owner nightmare that is becoming more and more common with each passing year.
Animal theft is a growing concern among pet owners and New York City is no exception. According to the American Kennel Club there has been a rise in stolen dogs since 2008 each and every year. 2015 looks to be no different. In 2012 there were 444 reported crimes, nationally, which is up significantly from the 255 cases reported in 2010. It is worth noting that these are just the cases reported. Some estimates have the number of stolen dogs climbing as high as one million.
That terrifying experience at the deli is exactly what happened to a 7-year-old Pomeranian named Suki when he was left unattended outside of a city deli. Security cameras show a woman snatching little Suki and driving off with him in her car. In a surprising turn of events Suki was returned to his owners after the story blew up on social media. This is a lucky situation for Suki and his owners. It is certainly not the norm. In most situations the dogs are often never seen again by their owners.
In some cases the stolen dogs are listed for sale on craigslist or through the black market by people hoping to make a quick buck. Other times they’re held for ransom as the dog-nappers await a reward from the pet owner hoping to be reunited with his or her fuzzy child. They are sometimes given away as gifts to family or friends of the dog-napper.  In the worst situations the animals are harmed physically or are used as bait in dog-fighting rings (another issues plaguing the dog community). Pure bred dogs are particularly at risk as thieves often steal them intending to resell at a high price. Manhattan has quite a few pure-bred dogs so it makes this city a prime target for thieves.

HELP! WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MY DOG!

Here are some tips for dog owners hoping to avoid this nightmare:
1. Do not leave your dog unattended in your car or yard. Never tie them up outside of a restaurant or shop. This is just asking for trouble. If you know you need to stop in somewhere just leave your dog at home. It isn’t worth the risk.
2. Do not tell people how much your dog cost. This is just flashing to potential thieves how much your dog is worth.
3. License and microchip your dog. This can increase the likelihood that your lost or stolen pet might someday be returned to you. I recently read a story about a woman who responded to a craigslist posting from someone trying to sell a dog that looked suspiciously like her stolen pooch. She showed up armed with a microchip scanner and confirmed that the dog was hers.
4. File a police report. Besides alerting to the authorities to your stolen dog this can help with any criminal charges filed if the situation escalates to a court hearing. If the police are apprehensive about making a report remind that pets are legally considered “property” and their theft is either a felony or misdemeanor under all state laws. Do not let them talk you out of it because they might not want to mess with some additional paperwork.
5. When posting signs avoid mentioning “stolen” as the potential dog-nappers or good-Samaritans might avoid coming forward out of fear of criminal charges.

The best thing you can do is be aware. Keep an eye on your pets and don’t create a situation for something bad to happen. Most property theft is opportunity based. Don’t give someone that opportunity and you can do your best to keep your pet safe. Next time you’re meeting with Dr. Zola or one of our amazing veterinarians ask about getting your pet micro-chipped if you haven’t already.

 

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