Dog Thefts on the Rise: What to Do?

With more news reporting dog thefts, many dog owners are living in fear. That’s why we’ve prepared some stats on dog thefts to show you how serious it is and how you can prevent your dog from being stolen.

Read on to learn more.

Are Dog Thefts on the Rise?

Yes, dog thefts are on the rise in the US. There are no concrete dog theft statistics for 2021 yet, but many cases have been reported since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
AKC and Adopt-a-Pet have already warned buyers to be aware of this situation.

Although pet ownership has grown by 300% in the last 30+ years, the pandemic has increased it further. Pet thieves see this as their chance.

Surprising Dog Theft Statistics

We’ve prepared some eye-opening statistics to show you how serious the situation is. So, let’s start.

1. Approximately 2 million dogs are stolen each year.

(Yahoo, 2021)

This is the approximate number, since not all owners report dog theft. But most websites put the number around 2 million, too.

2.  Dog theft statistics for 2020 show that in Phoenix, 13% more dogs were reported stolen than in 2019.

(Cronkite News, 2020)

In 2019, the number of stolen pets was 137, while in 2020, the number grew to 155. This growth can be associated with the high demand for dogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.

3. More than 196 dogs are stolen every month in the UK.

(The Kennel Club, 2021)

This means that almost 50 dogs are stolen every week, and the numbers are growing, as the UK is currently dealing with significant problems regarding pet theft. The reports show that the number of reported pet thefts grew 3.5% in just one year despite the fall in other crimes.

4. Lost and stolen pets with microchips are up to 20 times more likely to be retrieved.

(AKC Reunite, 2020)

This is an AKC Reunite estimate, but microchips have proven to be helpful with lost pets. Though it can’t prevent your pet from getting stolen, it can help you get your pet back.

5. Dog theft has grown more than 70% in the last 11 years.

(Alexandria Times, 2021)

As mentioned, due to COVID-19 and the high demand for dogs, the number of stolen pets is growing. However, this stat shows that the numbers have been growing for a long time. 

Just keep in mind that the number is approximate and should be taken with a grain of salt.

A Guide on Preventing Dog Kidnapping

With dog thefts on the rise, we’ve prepared a thorough guide on dog thefts. So if you want to learn how to prevent your dog from getting stolen, what you can do to increase the chances of your dog being found, and what the laws say on this, read on.

Why Are Dogs Stolen?

The first and most common reason why dogs are stolen is money. The thieves might try to sell the dog for a lower price to unsuspecting buyers, aka dog flipping. Or They might steal it in order to return it later for the reward money.

They might also be stolen for breeding purposes. Unfortunately, some dogs might also be stolen in order to participate in dog fights or serve as bait dogs.

In rarer cases, the thieves want the pet for themselves but can’t afford it.

Most Stolen Dog Breeds

There are some dog breeds that thieves prefer over others. Extremely expensive dogs, dogs in demand, and especially the smaller ones that are easier to grab and run away with, are their choice. This is why these are the top 10 kidnapped breeds.

  • French Bulldog
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Chihuahua
  • Pit Bull
  • Pomeranian
  • Labrador
  • Labradoodle
  • Maltese
  • Shih Tzu
  • German Shepherd

Dog Stealing Laws

So, what happens to people who steal the dogs, and how does the law treat them? Unfortunately, dogs in the US are considered property. 

Only 15 states have laws connected to dog theft, and most of them count the offense and fine based on the dog’s objective price.

The harshest law is in Virginia, where dog stealing is considered a class 5 felony and can lead to up to 10 years in jail. What’s most important is that it doesn’t take into account the price of your dog.

This is not unique to the US and is the case with other countries such as the UK as well, where dog thieves are also punished as if they’ve stolen an object.

How To Prevent Dognapping?

If you’re worried that your dog might get stolen, try to follow these steps.

1. Don’t leave your dog alone in the yard

If you have a smaller dog that is easy to grab and run away with, it should never be left alone, not even in your yard. As for bigger dogs that are more likely to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle, if we are talking about an expensive breed, they might still be targeted. 

In this case, it would be a good idea to lock your gate with a quality padlock, and the fence should be tall enough so the thieves can’t jump over it.

2. Never leave them completely alone in public places

This goes for cars, places outside the shops, and even larger dog parks. It doesn’t take long for thieves to grab your dog, especially if they have a car nearby.

This also means that you shouldn’t walk your dog without a leash. Aside from the risks of running into traffic or getting lost, your dog could also get stolen the moment it’s out of your sight.

3. Don’t talk about your dog’s price

As dog theft statistics show, thieves go for more expensive dogs. So, if you brag about your dog’s financial value, it’s more likely to get stolen.

Also, avoid posting about your dog online, especially if anything on your social media profile could give away your home address.

4. Microchip and sterilize your pet

Microchipping won’t prevent your pet from getting stolen but will raise your chances of finding it. You might also want to invest in a theft-proof dog collar with a GPS signal, which allows for easier tracking.

Moreover, if you’re not planning on breeding your dog, sterilizing it could make it less attractive to potential thieves that would use it for breeding.

Unfortunately, all the prevention still does not guarantee that your dog won’t get stolen, since the dog kidnappers are getting more desperate. But you’re surely going to lower the chances. 

What to Do if Your Dog Gets Stolen?

If your dog is stolen, don’t despair — there are a few things you can do to increase the chances of getting your dog back.

1. Inform the police and local pet services

If your dog gets stolen, you should call the police and report the crime. The faster you react, the higher are the chances that they’ll find your dog.

After you’ve called the police, spread the word. Post about it on social networks and inform all local vets, pet stores, and shelters. Checking craigslist might also prove useful, since people stealing dogs are very likely to try to sell your pet.

2. Ask around

If the dog has been stolen from your home, you can ask your neighbors if they saw anything. If it’s been stolen in public, and you know where, you can check if any of the nearby buildings have security cameras or if anybody who was near saw anything.

3. Offer a reward

It might also be a good idea to offer a reward that would be higher than the price one could get for selling your dog. This way, the thieves are more likely to return your dog rather than sell it. 

Just make sure not to mention that the dog was stolen if offering a reward — they won’t turn it in if they fear persecution. That being said, be aware that some people might try to scam you for the reward, so never give it before your dog is safely in your hands.

Final Thoughts

Dog thieves are getting more and more desperate, and we can expect even more dog kidnappings. So, it’s essential to follow our advice and protect your dog from getting taken in the first place.


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