Beware of Dognappers! - Kennel to Couch

Dognapping, the dog version of kidnapping, is on the rise, with dog thefts up 31% since 2021, according to the American Kennel Club which tracks instances of dog theft from their National Pet Theft Database.

Since it’s every dog parent’s worst nightmare, consider the following ways to keep it from happening to you and your cherished canine companion.

Spay and/or neuter your dog: The motivation of many dog thieves is selling intact dogs to breeders for the purpose of breeding them. Spayed and neutered dogs are then, understandably, of little valuable to those potential dog thieves.

Microchip your dog: While a microchip may not be able to guide you or the authorities to your dog’s location should the worst occur, it can tell a vet or a shelter how to reach you. It’s therefore vital to keep all of your contact information – telephone and cell phone numbers and address – up-to-date so that law enforcement officials know who to call if your dog turns up at a veterinary clinic or shelter.

Consider a GPS collar: Although a dog collar is easily removed, a thief, being so involved in the moment, often forgets to take it off immediately after running off with your dog. Those precious seconds can often give you an idea of the direction the dog thief was headed before the GPS collar was taken off.

Remain alert while walking: As tempting as it is to walk your well-trained dog without a leash, allowing him the freedom he craves, this makes you an especially easy target for dognappers. Even with a leash, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings at all times – from people walking too near you on the sidewalk to a suspicious vehicle driving slowly and closely to the curb. Dognappers could be anywhere!

Never leave your dog tied up outside a coffee shop, restaurant or other business: Oftentimes, dognapping is “a crime of opportunity.” A person passing by might not even be thinking about stealing a dog, but the mere sight of a dog alone and, therefore, vulnerable, is all the impetus someone needs to see proverbial dollar signs and make off with your dog in the hopes of selling him.

Make certain that your yard is secure: If you have a backyard where your dog spends time unattended, you should not only have a fence that keeps him from escaping but one that keeps potential dog thieves from entering. For safety’s sake, ensure that the fence is high enough to prevent people from both looking over and leaping over it and that it’s solidly constructed and not a chain-link one.

Install security cameras and signs: When possible, set up several video-recording devices outside your home to aid in the identification of any potential dognappers. It’s also prudent to post clearly visible signs indicating that your property ismonitored by security cameras. Dog thieves tend to avoid homes with security cameras for fear of being caught.

Keep the most recent photos of your dog on hand: Make certain that they’re not only clear but show any and all distinctive features and markings. In the unfortunate event of his being stolen, they can play an essential role in helping you recover him.

If your cherished canine companion has indeed been dognapped:

File a police report immediately: Emphasize that your dog has been STOLEN, not lost! Include as many details as possible, such as your dog’s last known whereabouts, and his distinctive features and/or markings if any to best assist in identifying him. If your situation involves a ransom demand, promptly inform the authorities.

Spread the word: Have your family and friends help you post flyers in your neighborhood (many neighborhoods have Facebook pages devoted to stolen and missing dogs), and share details of the dognapping on all relevant social media channels. Call every local animal rescue and shelter and provide them with a description and photos of your dog.

Offer a reward: Offering a cash reward for your dog’s safe return is the best way of attracting media attention. Advertise the reward on the flyers you’re posting, share it with local rescues and shelters, and contact local TV stations and other media outlets. Like ripples in a pond, the further the word spreads, the more likely your stolen dog is to be recognized and the more pressure will be put on the thief.

And last but not least, look in newspapers, on Craigslist, Kijiji and other social media sites to see if those dognappers have listed your dog “for sale.”

By Nomi Berger


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