When news of Lady Gaga’s dog-walkers shooting in the theft of her beloved pups spread through the nation, so did fear among dog owners and walkers. Violence with guns has taken on multiple forms and now criminals are targeting dog owners to steal their pets and sell them on the black market. It’s been tougher to adopt a dog since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic as more people who were homebound turned to pet owners to help ease the loneliness of quarantines and stay-at-home orders. Although society has once again opened up and we’re socializing with other humans more, criminal activities involving violent dog thefts are still a concern.
Minnesota confronted by masked thieves at gunpoint
Recently, a family in St. Paul, Minnesota was held at gunpoint. Two thugs in masks stole their dog and sped away in a vehicle, according to Kare 11 News. The family called the police after thieves stole their pitbull-terrier dog Suga. Founders of the nonprofit group Lost K9 stepped forward to help them find their missing dog. The 10-month-old pit bull was being walked down a local sidewalk when the car pulled up and a masked man with a shotgun jumped out, cocked the weapon, and demanded the dog. The owner was left with little choice as two men took the dog in a grey Honda and drove away. The family purchased the dog three weeks before the incident. St. Paul has seen a rash of stolen dogs, but most of the incidents occurred when the owners left dogs in a car and stepped away. Suga’s dog napping was one of the few of the 31 recent thefts to involve a firearm. Although every effort is being made to find the stolen dog, so far, she is still missing and the family is devastated by the loss.
Can you prevent dog napping?
Dognapping is a crime that, unfortunately, is on the rise. Dog owners are becoming fearful for the safety of their pets and their families. There are steps that you can take to help prevent dognapping and lessen the chances of becoming a victim of these unscrupulous criminals. Here are a few tips that can discourage dognappers from targeting you and your pet.
1. Never leave your dog alone in a vehicle
Viera East Veterinary Center warns that most dognapping incidents happen when pets are left inside a car without adult supervision. Most dognappings happen as crimes of opportunity. If your dog is in the back of a truck he is exposed and vulnerable. It makes him a prime target for thieves. Some dognappers will even break a car window to get to a dog and it can happen in broad daylight. Leave your dog safely at home if it isn’t necessary to take him with you.
2. Supervise your dog outdoors at all times
Many pet owners have fenced yards. They turn their pets out to enjoy fresh air and sunshine and let them run free for an hour. While it was once a healthy practice, it is no longer safe to let your dog roam in the yard without your supervision. Keep an eye on your pet and remain near to intervene if someone walking by the yard decides to steal your pet. It’s too easy for a dognapper to walk through the gate, pick up the dog and disappear with him.
3. Post a “Beware of Dog” sign
Posting a “Beware of Dog” sign tells would-be criminals that the dog that lives within the property lines is subject to attack. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. The warning will discourage cowardly thieves that are afraid of getting bitten. Nobody wants to become the victim of a dog attack.
4. Microchip your dog
You can do everything right and still become the victim of a dognapper, as the Minnesota family experienced. If your dog is microchipped the chances of finding him after an abduction increase. The chip can be scanned. It includes your name and contact information that identifies you as the owner. If you see your kidnapped dog in someone else’s yard, you can tell law enforcement. They can prove that it is your dog through the information on the microchip.
5. Stay alert when walking your dog
When you’re out walking your dog, stay in public places and be familiar with your environment. Walk your dog in areas that give you plenty of places to run away from people you don’t trust. If someone starts to approach you, duck into a spot where you and your pet can get out of their sight and leave the area. Move to a safer place. No rule says you have to trust strangers. If your gut tells you something is wrong, leave the situation and stay in areas with other people present. Criminals are less likely to accost you when there are witnesses around. Remain alert and suspicious of fellow walkers or suspicious-looking vehicles.
6. Report suspicious vehicles or persons
Dog Time recommends reporting suspicious cars driving around a neighborhood. If you see a strange car or a stranger, and you catch a bad vibe, it only takes a second to make a call and report them to local law enforcement. It’s common for dognappers to look for victims during the day, follow owners to their homes, and note the address for a nighttime return to steal the dog. Alert the police and request a patrol of the neighborhood. You can also alert the neighbors in the area to let them know a shady character is hanging around the neighborhood.
7. Be careful about what you share on social media
Some dognappers scan social media in search of valuable dogs to steal. Be careful about the pictures you list, and don’t let too many people know about your habits and routines with your pets. If you tell everyone that you go for a daily 5 pm walk, thieves will know where you and your dog will be at that time. Don’t make it easy for them to steal your dog. Be selective about the information you share and who you share.
8. Make it hard for potential thieves
Most dog nappers are opportunists looking for an easy way to steal dogs. If you set up situations that make it risky or difficult for them to gain access to your dog, they’re likely to leave your dog alone and look for an easier target. Fences help to dissuade thieves. Dognappers hate camera and motion lighting systems and doorbell cameras that allow you to talk with the person standing at your door when you’re gone. Install an alarm system in your home to alert law enforcement when there is an attempted break-in. Alarm systems that feature loud noises and bright flashing lights will scare off would-be dognappers.
9. Be aware of inquisitive strangers
Strangers who strike up a conversation about the dog you’re walking may just be friendly. When they ask for too much detail, they’re likely scoping out your pet for theft. Common questions asked by those casing your dog include queries about spaying/neutering, purebred, how much the dog cost, and your address. Never give out information about your dog or yourself to a stranger.
You can’t be too careful about the safety of your family and your pets. The world is full of opportunistic people looking for a fast way to make a buck. They steal anything of value that they can sell for cash. The list of items cased for theft now includes dogs. It’s tough to know who to trust nowadays, but you can trust your gut instincts. Use these nine tips to help lessen the chance of falling victim to dognappers.