Dog theft is big business. A thief can quickly resell your dog, possibly even before you know she’s gone. Dogs can be stolen from the home, when being walked, or when unleashed in a public place. The dogs most targeted for theft tend to be small, highly sought-after breeds, but dogs of all sizes can be at risk. Be sure to take important precautions to protect your beloved pet from theft.
Dog theft statistics
Two million dogs are stolen every year in the United States, and more than 80% of missing pets are never found. About half of all thefts occur in the home, stolen either from the yard or from inside the house. About 15% are nabbed while the dog is being walked, and about another 15% from dogs left alone at a store or in a car.
While some dogs are stolen because the thief wants to keep the dog as a pet, this is not common. More commonly, dogs are stolen for resale to new pet owners, kept for breeding, or sadly, used in dog fights or laboratory testing.
Protect your home
If you let your dogs roam on your property, be sure to have fencing that both keeps the dog in and intruders out. Install LED security flood lights with motion detectors so that intruders will receive an unwanted welcome. You can have sensors near the kennel to send off a signal if there is activity at night or when no one should be near the dogs.
Get yourself some security cameras. Have outdoor cameras prominently mounted where thieves can easily see them, which will be a strong deterrent. If a thief is foolish enough to still try to break in or steal your dog, make sure the camera is placed so the police can identify the thief’s face. Indoor cameras should be placed inside a kennel and other places in the home that may be vulnerable to entry.
Don’t receive strangers alone. Dog breeders in particular often have strangers visit to see the new puppies. Always be accompanied and have the indoor cameras and kennel cameras in clear view. Mention them nonchalantly in the conversation so the person knows you protect your dogs. Real buyers will be glad to hear you monitor your dogs at all times. Criminals will find an easier target.
Protect your dog
Never leave your dog unattended when you’re out and about. Some people leave their dog in the car or tie their dog up outside when they go into a store or restaurant. There is no easier way for someone to snatch your dog.
A dog playing freely in the park or walking without a leash is another easy target for dog-nappers. While your dog should be able to have some exercise without a leash, choose your locations carefully, and don’t let your dog run free unless she has been trained for a perfect recall. When you call her back, she needs to come immediately, so that she stays within your sight at all times. Be sure to treat her with a tasty Saint Rocco’s treat for staying close and obeying well.
Make sure your dog has an ID tag and a microchip so that if found, she can be easily identified. Besides these basics that every dog should have, there are also some very clever gadgets available to help you track your dog if she runs off or is stolen. GPS pet tracking devices are connected to the dog’s collar and can run from under $100 to close to $1000, depending on their bells and whistles.
If you seem like a vulnerable target, a dog-snatcher may just try to grab the dog while you’re walking her. In 2021, two of Lady Gaga’s three French bulldogs were stolen by several armed thieves who shot the dog-walker (fortunately he wasn’t killed). Happily, the thieves were arrested and the dogs returned. (I suppose it would be hard to sell Lady Gaga’s dogs without being caught!) But your dogs may not be so tough to sell.
Change your routine so that a thief who is eyeing your dog won’t be able to plan the theft. Train your dog to walk close to you – the classic “heel” command will keep her safely by your side and more difficult to snatch.
Pay attention when out walking rather than talking on the phone or listening to something with earbuds or a headphone on. If you do listen to something, keep it quiet or only put in one earbud so you can be aware of your surroundings. Consider walking with a buddy or letting people know when you’ll be back when you go out.
Apply these common sense tips to keep your dog and yourself safe. And always keep a few Saint Rocco’s treats in your pocket for greater incentive for your dog to stay close!