How To Stop A Dog Thief

Globally, dog theft has been on the rise for the past few years.  So if you think your dog isn’t at risk… you may want to THINK AGAIN!

Dog theft is devastating to loving pet owners.  It can bring your life to a standstill and can cause devastating depression.

Let us face it, it is sad enough to lose a dog to old age and disease, sometimes via the difficult decision of euthanasia.  Losing your dog to a THIEF… not knowing where he is, if he’s safe, if he’s even still alive? It would be torture.

Unfortunately, real numbers and statistics of pet and dog theft are hard to find.  In most countries, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and even Australia dogs are considered property.  Many times, the only viable statistics available come from those who report these thefts to their insurance companies.  Think of how many dog owners and pet owners don’t ever consider filing a claim and you will realize how little we truly know about dog theft around the world.

However, the little information that we do have shows us two very frightening facts.

#1.  Pet and dog theft is a gateway (or first sign) of animal cruelty and/or torture.

#2.  Certain dog breeds are more at risk to be stolen from their owners in certain places or areas of the world.   French Bulldogs, Pit Bulls, American Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Bull Terriers (think Spuds Mackenzie), Yorkshire Terriers, Siberian Huskies, Chihuahuas, and even Labradoodles, as well as purebred Retrievers, make the list.

Rarely is the sheriff’s office called, and even when the sheriff’s office or police department is contacted, the act can seldom be proven.  Thankfully with the invention of cheap and easy to use home video systems, these crimes are being caught on camera more often.

Different states have different laws but most dog theft or pet theft does not qualify as a felony or grand theft in the third degree.  If the value of the pet is over five hundred to over one thousand dollars in some states it may qualify as grand theft versus petty theft (which is often only a misdemeanor); making the penalties higher if the individual can be or is caught and the case can be proven.

Reasons Criminals Steal Dogs

Monetary Reasons

Yes, it is sad but it is true.  Many times, immoral people and drug addicts steal things that will help them to profit and or fuel their illegal habits.

How often have you seen “Lost” or “Missing” pet signs, around your neighborhood, that offer a large sum of cash as a reward?

Sadly, especially in affluent or wealthy neighborhoods dogs and other pets can become targets as a means to make quick money.

Purebred dogs often can be sold for thousands of dollars and distraught pet and dog owners will often pay more than what they are worth to get their beloved pet back.

Puppies are even more at risk, because they are easily “flipped” or resold for profit.

Stolen dogs can be big business.

Research Institutions

Wicked people looking for easy money often target pets left outside, go to animal shelters, animal auctions and take pets offered “free to a good home” and sell them to research institutions that offer money for animals that they can conduct research on with very little financial output.

Although research institutions try to avoid stolen dogs, especially on paper, many stolen dogs are taken to these places for profit.

Bait Dogs

Dogs are often stolen or adopted off Craigslist or from shelters to be sold as “bait dogs” for the illegal world of dogfighting.

Wretchedly, the world of dogfighting is very profitable and still exists all over the world.  Don’t believe me?  Volunteer at your local shelter and you will see the wounded and scarred Pit Bulls and other fighting breeds come in and be held until their court case works through the system.  Most often these dogs are euthanized before even given a chance to go up for adoption due to animal aggression issues (as you can well imagine).

In the beginning, in order to get these fighting breeds to adequately and vigorously fight one another to the death they introduce them to much weaker dogs that are easily killed; “bait dogs.”  This process builds their confidence and often makes them more willing to fight.

Bait dogs can be sold to people who profit from dog fights (yes, there is big money in this underground and illegal enterprise).  Remember the worldwide attention quarterback Michael Vick received when it was discovered (while investigating another crime) that his Pit Bull “breeding” kennel “Bad Newz Kennels” was involved in dogfighting and illegal gambling?  In 2006, just one year before charges were filed Michael Vick was the highest-paid NFL player.

Gambling purses alone went for upwards of $26,000, which is a lot of money.  According to witnesses Vick and his other cohorts were known to laugh when their trained fighting Pit Bulls killed pet dogs.

Regrettably, the world of dogfighting exists and is still big business and gambling in and around the world.

Insurance Fraud

Yes, this also exists although probably to a smaller extent.

When I was a young, young dog trainer, I knew a breeder of Cocker Spaniels.  They happened to have a very rare color within their breed.  Oddly they bragged about the color and how they had taken out pet insurance on the puppy.

Oddly enough, their puppy died suddenly and they used the insurance money to buy a $20,000 boat.

And, although this is rarely a reason for dog theft (unless a third party is paid), it is still something that sticks in my mind when it comes to pet insurance.

As far as I know, it was never proven as insurance fraud.  But, to this day I have my doubts that the death of the puppy was accidental.

Other Reasons, Beyond Financial Gain

Animal Torture and Abuse

As we are well aware due to many studies in modern psychology, animal torture, cruelty, and abuse is linked to antisocial behavior and severe and disturbing mental disorders.  Alarmingly, the act of animal torture and cruelty is known to psychologists as “Intentional Animal Torture and Cruelty” (IATC).  There are many types of Intentional Animal Torture and Cruelty including religious sacrifice, artistic sacrifice, psychopathic personality disorders (zoosadism), or sexual disorders.

In the 1970s when behavior profiling was in its infancy one of the most consistent findings of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was that Intentional Animal Torture and Cruelty was seen as a common behavior, in childhood, of early serial murderers and rapists.

I really hate to go into this more, as just doing the research for this article sickens me; but let me assure you that this kind of behavior still exists in the human or inhumane world of humans and neighborhood pets are often used as a likely source because they are easily available.

Stealing To Get The Dog You Can’t Buy (Or Afford)

Yes, it seems ridiculous; but some people steal pets or specifically purebred dogs because they cannot afford to buy the dog that they want.

You can search the Internet and find videos of often women sticking pure breed puppies in their purse or shirt and walking out of pet shops and pet stores.  These puppies are often upwards of $1,000.

Sometimes the thieves think that they are giving the stolen dog a better life.  And, honestly sometimes stolen dogs get just that.

I am embarrassed to admit that I have known people who have stolen dogs.  These dogs were often chained outside day in and day out; sometimes they were left with no shelter and no food or water.  I can think of one I used to drive by every day when I lived in GA.  I watched him grow from a puppy into an adult.  He had barely a shelter and animal control wouldn’t do anything about his conditions.  Never did he get to go inside; EVER.  Someone in the animal community took him to give him a new lease on life while he was still a year or so old.

I have often seen a Pit Bull that is my best friend’s neighbor’s dog.  He also is never invited inside and sits outside no matter how cold or rainy it is in our climate.  I wish I could steal him and give him a better life.  A life where he can actually have a “pack” and a loving human and the food and shelter and warm bed that he desires.

Pet theft and dog theft comes in many forms.

Although all are illegal.  You judge what falls in the parameters of morally acceptable and what is not.

At least dogs thieved to be personal pets are more likely to have a better chance at life than other dogs or companion animals that are stolen.

The truth is, good pet owners never want their dog to be on that list of stolen dogs that the police or insurance company has to investigate!

So let us talk about how to keep our dogs safe!

Protect Your Dog from Dog Theft

Secure Your Area

The first thing to keep in mind is to secure your area.  Make sure that you have locks to lock your fence.  Wooden fences provide more security and keep neighbors and passers-by from being able to see your dogs.

Wooden fences also keep dogs from being reactive and overexcited because they limit what they can visually see.

Keep An Eye on Him

Don’t put your dog outside for hours on end, even if he likes to go outside be sure that you keep an eye on him.

Every 20 minutes or so check on him and make sure that he is still in your yard and safely secured.

No Signs

Although many people believe that they should get signs that announce their dog’s presence in their home or in their yard; these signs may actually do more harm than good.

“Dog on Premises”  or “Warning Guard Dog” signs simply alert would-be thieves to the fact that you own a dog!

If you want to keep someone from breaking into your home, I suggest that you use a security system sign or an alert to video surveillance.

Don’t Leave Your Dog Outside While You Are Gone

Dogs left outside for hours at a time and especially dogs left outside while their owners are gone make perfect targets.

These are the dogs that often bark (which alerts the neighbors to them being alone and can also irritate neighbors).  Dogs left outside consistently make easy marks for would-be thieves who may be “casing” or watching for dogs that would be easy to steal.

Leave your dog secured inside while you are gone to keep him safe.

Tools If The Unthinkable Happens

Microchip

Microchips are easy and will keep shelters are research companies from accepting a stolen dog or cat.  Nowadays, microchip readers are also universal so that owners can be tracked down no matter what microchip company the pet owner chooses.

Your veterinary hospital will be happy to microchip your pet.

But, please, please, please register the microchip and keep it up to date when you move.  There are thousands of microchips that go unregistered and an unregistered microchip is as good as not having one at all!

Tattoo

There are some places that will also tattoo your pet.  Many show dogs are not only microchipped but additionally tattooed with their owner’s social security number so that the owner can easily be tracked down.

Tips for tattooing is NOT to tattoo the ear of the dog.  As sick as it sounds, ears can be cut off and dogs can still be turned in for money or financial gain.

Those who tattoo their dogs usually use their social security number and have the tattoo put on the thigh of the dog where it will be easily seen and identified on exam.

GPS Collar

GPS collars can also give you information if your pet goes missing.  You can track down the time the dog was taken and if the would-be thief is not astute he might not realize that the collar has a GPS locator.

Video Surveillance

Thanks to modern technology and the ability to mass-produce technology for the masses camera systems like the “Ring” are often now used both outside the home and inside the home to keep theft at bay.

As with any crime, make sure that your dog’s yard and his space is also under surveillance.

Criminals avoid video surveillance like the plague and sentencing and proof is much easier if you have the crime caught on film.

It is always best when your home and your equipment can help you avoid having crime or getting the police involved.

Neighborhood Watch

A neighborhood with a good and active neighborhood watch will keep many criminals at bay.

There are also lots of pets alliance groups that you can look into in your area.  These groups will help keep your beloved pets safe and in their home.

Help Change Laws

Many people are afraid of the government taking away their rights and becoming involved in our lives.  I for one, agree. However, I would like to see laws change, and thankfully they are slowly changing.  Pets and animals are slowly evolving from “property” into sentient animals.  A sentient animal is an animal that is capable of being that has interests and is aware of its environment.  It feels hunger, heat, cold, and has desires and wants.  It is an animal that is capable of feelings.  Pets are not inanimate objects or property.  Pets have feelings and shouldn’t be abused or tortured any more than humans should suffer the same fate.

Pets are not property, they are way more important than any motor vehicle that can easily be replaced.  Property can be disposed of and abused at will.  Police should be involved with animal cruelty and abuse because this is a predictive crime.

We need laws that keep our pets safe from abuse, if not just for the animal’s safety but also to identify human sociopaths and predators.

The law should swiftly deal with animal abuse and neglect with a stern hand.  Empathy and kindness should be our goal when dealing with sentient animals.  After all, they have feelings too.

Support legislation that gives our companion animals and other animals rights to be treated humanely.

Looking to get involved contact your local kennel club.  Kennel clubs often know about what is going on in their area and can put you in contact with great people.  Rescue groups can also be a wealth of information.

Be Careful What Non-profit You Support

Not all not for-profit or 501(c)(3) organizations are created equally.  Not all animal welfare organizations or even humane society groups do what they say.

Some of these animal nonprofits are more like cults.

I remember when I was 18 and one very well-known animal rights organization was strongly opposed to showing dogs in conformation.  At the time I was involved in the conformation world with my male Rottweiler.  My intent was never to breed him, but to show the world his beauty and perfect physical conformation.  This said animal rights group was going to prestigious conformation events and poisoning dogs… because they felt that the dogs lived abusive or sad lives.

I can say wholeheartedly, that some do.  Some of these dogs are not much more than livestock being paraded around to win trophies so that their owners can charge more money for puppies.  But, many of the dogs were like mine; well-loved family pets that wen home and lived happy and prosperous lives.  I for one have NEVER bred one of my dogs no matter what title they have won.  I enter into the dog show world only to compete alongside the best with my happy pets.

Do your research!  If you are going to support an animal rights organization financially or otherwise make sure that you know the ins and outs of their ethics.

I am not one for putting anyone on blast but PETA is known for their extremist views and the killing of animals.

The truth is that dog theft is a big problem throughout the world.  But there are simple steps that you can take to educate yourself about the act itself and why it is profitable and then ways that you can keep your dog from becoming a statistic!

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