full story, comments, and photos:
January 11, 2013
Sergeant Kenneth Chambers was
playing Frisbee with his dog in the parking lot of a Jacksonville, Florida
grocery store recently when lightening struck out of the clear blue sky. The
young American veteran, in recovery for post traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD), 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’
continues for Adalida, there are measures that all of us can take to
prevent a similar tragedy.
Top Five High Risk Pet Theft Scenarios
#1 Dogs in Autos:
In the blink of an eye, a partially opened
window is forced down or the window is smashed and the dog can be removed
from the vehicle. It takes 20 seconds or less to abduct a dog and by the
time the pet guardian returns to the car, their dog is long gone. The
American Kennel Club reports a 70% rise in dog theft in 2012 and a 40% rise
the year before. A weak economy is fueling 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:
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 under any circumstances 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:
loves the convenience of a doggy door, especially criminals. Homeowners who
let their pet explore the fenced yard without supervision have the illusion
of safety, but police departments across the country will tell you that the
theft of these dogs is climbing.
In broad daylight on a single
Saturday in November, Corning (California) Animal Shelter Manager Debbie
Eaglebarger documented the theft of four Dobermans, four Australian
shepherds and two Rottweilers. There were actually other dogs taken that
same day but the first few calls were not recorded as the shelter had not
yet realized that the town was in the midst of a widespread crime wave. One
neighbor saw a man and a woman driving a green pick up truck 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
This one may sound like a no-brainer, but particularly
in urban areas where people take their pets on their errands on foot, 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 making 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 the property
can be a risk to your pets. Whether they are invited contractors,
deliverymen or activists with a petition in hand, 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
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 as a single dog can fetch well over
$1,000. Among the large breeds, Labrador Retrievers are a frequent target
and Pit Bull Terriers and Pit Bull mixes are frequently coming up stolen for
much more sinister purpose.
Dog Thieves: Why They’ll Steal Your
1. Bait Dogs & Labratory Dogs: This is every dog guardians 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 attempts to police against it. And, despite some
legislation intended to stop the sale of undocumented dogs to
research laboratories, under-the-table purchase of dogs continues and,
in some countries, these exchanges are not considered a crime.
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 pure bred dog, particularly puppies, are considered a
high-value commodity. Even with a microchip, it’s often too late by the time
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 on the loose one day.
Other times it’s an act of revenge, and there are many reports of dogs being
taken where a former romantic partner is considered the prime suspect.
Whatever the scenario or the motivation, dog guardians can best protect
their dogs with watchfullness. 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.