While not a new phenomenon, professional dognapping is on the rise as toy breeds—which are easy to steal and conceal—have become more popular and valuable.
The four Ps can help you determine whether your pet is more likely to be snatched—portability, popularity, price, and pedigree. You even have to be careful if your small breed looks purebred. Even without AKC papers, some desirable breeds—like Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas, Toy Poodles, Shih Tzus, and Miniature Dachshunds—can fetch up to $2,500.
Most dog theft occurs outside restaurants, shops, and from parked cars, where owners leave their pets unattended, sometimes unleashed, while they run in for quick errands. But dognappers are becoming bolder. Stealing dogs from backyards and parks is not uncommon. Dog walkers have even been subjected to armed kidnappings in broad daylight in “safe” neighborhoods.
Simple steps to protect your small dog:
Law enforcement organizations suggest a few simple precautions owners can take to discourage dog theft:
• Keep your dog leashed and by your side in parks, at the beach, or any public place where you could lose sight of them. Unattended dogs left outside stores and restaurants are stolen most often.
• Don’t ask strangers to watch your dog while you run into Starbucks or Home Depot. This is asking for trouble.
• If your dog eliminates and exercises in your backyard, be sure that the yard is securely fenced with a locked gate.
• Your dog is more vulnerable at holiday time—Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day— when cute dogs are stolen as gifts. Use extra caution.
• Think twice about advertising puppy litters in newspaper classified ads or on Craig’s List where dognappers can identify easy victims.
• Make arrangements with your veterinarian to microchip your dog. While it’s not a dog-tracing measure, it will help authorities identify your dog in the event of recovery.