Reports of stolen dogs rose 49% in the first seven months of 2011.

The  economy has really gone to the dogs when money-seeking thieves are pilfering dogs and selling them for profit.


For the first seven months of 2011, reports of stolen dogs rose 49%, according to the American Kennel Club. About 224 were snatched, compared with 150 in the same period last year.

In 2008, 71 thefts were recorded by the AKC’s database of customer and media reports. That rose to 162 in 2009 and 255 in 2010.

Canines have been taken from homes, pet stores, shelters, cars, parks and city streets, says AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson.

“The motivation is money and economics,” she says.

Some thieves falsify where they got the dogs, then sell them via the Internet, at flea markets or at roadside stands. Others pretend they “found” the dog after a reward-seeking flier is posted so they can collect the gratuity.

All types of dogs are stolen, but small breeds such as Yorkies and Pomeranians are abducted more often than others. Those pups are “popular in general and easier to steal based on size,” says Peterson.

Abductors also know that dog-seekers will pay a bundle for a new best friend.

The average amount spent to buy a dog hit $364 in 2010, up from $221 in 2008, according to the American Pet Products Association.

Some dog thieves want a pet for themselves, a friend or a child but don’t want to pay to purchase or adopt it, says Peterson.

“Everyone knows how wonderful it is to have a dog,” she says. “That’s what makes them a target.”

Slightly more than 46 million U.S. households have dogs, according to APPA. Nine out of 10 owners say their dog brings them companionship and love. And 70% say a key benefit of ownership is that the pooch becomes a part of the family.

Peterson mentions one burglary where perpetrators “took not only the 55-inch television, but also Boo Boo the Yorkie.” For some criminals, the lap dog can be more valuable than the laptop.

“We’ve seen car break-ins with the dog taken, but the GPS and laptop left,” she says.

To reduce the chance of a dog-napping, keep pets on a leash, and never leave an unattended dog outside of a store, says pet safety specialist Ines de Pablo.

Boastful owners can unintentionally pique the interest of criminals, she says. “Watch the bragging, and don’t mention price (paid for the pet) in public.”

She and Peterson advise owners to keep a current photo of Fido. The picture can be used for “missing” flyers, as well as distributed to police, neighbors, veterinarians and shelters if a pet goes missing.

Another safety device: pet-identifying microchips that are implanted under the dog’s skin. These tiny chips can help a vet or shelter employee identify the true owner if a stolen dog is taken to their facility.

While it’s devastating to have a pet disappear, all hope isn’t lost. Snatched pups have been recovered, says Peterson.

“A lot of times people will steal a dog, and then realize how difficult it is to keep a live animal until they can sell it,” she says. “So sometimes a dog miraculously shows up at a shelter.”

Photo credit: abc News

Via USA Today