It happens more often than you think. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recently reported as many as 432 stolen dogs in one year and that only includes those who report it to the AKC; so the actual number is likely much higher.
Animal thieves have many motivations. Many steal dogs to sell, ransom, breed or give away. The most common victims of pet theft are purebred dogs. Their pedigree has street value that can fetch thousands of dollars with little effort from or expense to the dog napper. Thieves may steal animals and wait for a sizable reward to be posted, then collect the money from unwittingly gracious guardians. Stolen pets might be used as “bait dogs” to train fighting dogs. These breeds are commonly German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers and American Pit Bull Terriers. Perhaps most sinister of all, some people sell stolen and lost animals for research and veterinary institutions that use dogs and cats for testing and biomedical experimentation.
So what can you do to protect your pup? First of all, do not let your dog roam free outside. Also, do not tie your dog up outside while you visit a restaurant or store. Spay or neuter your pet so it does not present value for breeders and puppy mills. If your dog is stolen, report it to law enforcement. Most victims simply believe their dog is lost so the theft goes unreported. Also, there are many local organizations you can find online that will help you find your pet.
As for the thief, there is no pet-specific theft statute in Maryland as there are in some other states. Therefore the dog-napper will be charged with simple theft of property. However, depending on the circumstances, some animal cruelty charges may apply.
Image Credit: Sippanont Samchai