Dog owners know it: “Dogs must stay outside.” No problem, then the four-legged friends are leashed in front of the supermarket, the bakery and the like. Nothing will happen – or will it?
According to Doglost, which runs a database of missing dogs, dog thefts have increased by 250 percent in Great Britain and Ireland alone since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. And more and more cases are being reported. also known in Germany – especially in the big cities. There are no exact numbers, because not every dog theft is reported. In addition, the federal states do not keep statistics on this. Not yet.
Dognapping: Small dog breeds are particularly at risk
In North Rhine-Westphalia, police were looking for Brutus the Shih-Tzu-Maltese mix in mid-July. A Pomeranian was kidnapped in Großsachsenheim in Baden-Württemberg, Filou the Chihuahua in Mellingen, Luzi the Labrador puppy in Bielefeld and Luke the poodle in Wetzlar.
Desperate owners and mistresses post new search reports on the Stolen Dogs Facebook group almost every day. Birgitt Thiesmann from the animal protection foundation “Four Paws” knows which dogs are particularly popular with kidnappers: “Especially small breeds like French bulldogs, Maltese, Chihuahuas or Yorkshire terriers.”
Dognapping: Small dogs are easy prey
There are reasons why small dog breeds are especially stolen: Not only are dogs in high demand, but they are also easier to kidnap. Because small and light dogs can quickly be grabbed and carried away by thieves. And, of course, the often good-natured nature of many dogs also plays well into the hands of kidnappers: More often than not, the dogs just come without barking loudly or resisting.
Dog theft: Organized gangs speculate big money
The animal protection organization “Four Paws” suspects organized gangs that sell the stolen four-legged friends for profit. “Demand has increased incredibly since the coronavirus,” says Birgitt Thiesmann. And Sonja Slezacek from the central pet registry “TASSO eV” can also confirm the development: “If we look at the last two years, the trend seems to consolidate that the coronavirus crisis and the increased time at home that led to a significant increase of demand for dogs and cats In 2021 alone, we see an increase of around 7% in new dog registrations.’
But not everyone can afford the dog of their dreams. Puppies of popular breeds often cost 2000 euros and more.
Dognapping: It’s not just young dogs that are at risk
But a second possible theory is even worse: an undercover agent told the BBC that many dogs were also given to testing labs or sold off for breeding purposes – usually under the worst conditions. It doesn’t matter if the dogs are small or big. It’s not just puppies that get caught by criminals.
The unfortunate thing is that many times the cases are not solved at all and when they are solved, the thieves often get away with small fines. On the other hand, there are large sums of money that can be made from the stolen dog business.
The British government, on the other hand, wants – in response to the increasing number of kidnappings – to make pet theft a new criminal offense in England.
This is how you can protect yourself and your dogs from being kidnapped
There is not a single tip on how to protect your four-legged friends from kidnappers. However, you can greatly reduce your risk if you follow a few things.
Here are our eleven tips on how to protect your pet:
- Be sure to chip your pet! A microchip does not protect against theft by itself, but in the best case the chip can help to find the dog again. Also register your pet in an animal registry such as Tasso or Findefix and keep the data there up to date.
- Use a GPS tracker on your dog’s collar: you can use the app to track where your dog is when he goes missing.
- Never leave your dog unattended outside your own four walls, and never tether your pet in front of stores. If you have to go where you can’t take your dog with you, it’s best to leave it at home. Remember: a theft only lasts a few seconds.
- Don’t leave your dog alone in your garden or car.
- Install a dog camera on your property. You can watch all the activities during the day via live stream.
- Think twice before posting a photo of your dog on social media. Because a photo – possibly with location information – could make you a target for dog thieves.
- Make sure your dog is never out of sight, even during walks and walks.
- Practice recall commands with your dog.
- Forbid strangers from feeding your dog, petting it or even taking pictures of it.
- Always be prepared for the worst case: keep all important documents and easily identifiable photos of your dog. Also note your dog’s special characteristics.
- Do you have documents to prove that you really are the owner of your dog? Make sure you have documents, proof of purchase from the breeder and other documents with you.