I was in Marietta last week working with a new Home Dog Training client and her Golden Retriever named Lucy. Lucy had all the regular characteristics of a young Golden. She was jumping, running to the door, not listening, and counter surfing. We quickly addressed those issues and she was a great student.
Everything was going great with Lucy’s training and our conversation turned to the news stories of the day. Our client mentioned that she had been watching TV and saw stories of dogs being stolen from yards in the middle of the day.
This made her very nervous because Lucy loved being outside and she didn’t want anything bad happening to her. She wondered if we had any advice on how to keep her dog safe and secure.
The unhappy news is that we live in a time of bad people doing bad things. One disturbing event is the increase of people blatantly stealing family dogs. After I listened to my client’s concerns, I came home and did some research. I discovered that dog thefts have increased by as much as 32% in recent years.
After some additional “digging”, I discovered some general trends regarding why “bad people” steal our dogs:
- Money is getting “tighter and tighter” and people still want dogs. Some of them just don’t want to pay for them. Even though the fees are minimal at County Humane Societies, some “bad people” don’t even want to pay anything.
- With so many people buying dogs over the internet, some people steal dogs to sell them on places like Craig’s List. Some breeds can easily sell for between $2,000 and $4,000. Since they stole the dog, they make a very nice profit.
- The first thing any dog owner does when they discover their dog is missing is to place notices and a reward on the internet. They may also put up flyers in and around the neighborhood. Whenever I see one of those flyers, I feel really bad for the owner because I know how much they are hurting. The “bad person” who stole the dog will see that notice as their “pay day”. They contact the owner and make up a story how they “rescued the dog from the side of the street”. They will then return the dog and collect their “pay day”.
- Some dogs are targeted and then taken to be used in fighting clubs. This is probably the most distressing and frightening of all the reasons your dog is stolen.
Whenever a dog is stolen it is a horrendous, dangerous event for the dog owner and dog. Once returned, a once well-behaved dog can turn into a fearful/aggressive animal. Because of the unsettling trauma the dog went through, he might attack with no warning or sit, trembling with fear, in the corner of the room.
What are the steps we can take, as dog owners, to minimize the likelihood of having our dog stolen from us?
- I am always telling my clients that they should have their dog microchipped and he should always wear a collar. The dog’s collar with his information will allow anyone finding him to instantly call you. If the collar gets off, most veterinarians have a microchip reader that can get your dog back to you. Also, the GPS locator collars are becoming more and more prevalent. That will allow you to “track your dog down” if he gets out.
- Being up in North Georgia, many of us think nothing of leaving our dogs sitting and waiting for us outside the market or in a public place. Please, please, please, never leave your dog in a public place unattended and waiting for you to come back. If your dog is trusting and friendly, it would be simple for anyone to walk him away with a warm smile and a tasty goodie.
- Do not let your dog out in the back yard alone for long periods of time. We never let our dogs outside alone for longer than ten minutes.
- Do you notice strangers in your neighborhood that seem to be “overly curious” about your dog while you are out on a walk? They might be “shopping”.
- Check the background of anyone who will be alone in your house with your dog. Always ask for references. The best references will come from neighbors who have used the people before.
If your dog has been stolen/missing:
- Get in touch with the police and the animal control authorities as soon as possible.
- Put out flyers with your dog’s information and picture immediately. Make sure you get your flyers in grooming salons, veterinarian clinics, local pet stores, and supermarkets.
- Get in contact with your local radio stations and TV stations to see if they have any facilities to get the word out about your missing dog.
- Visit the local Humane Societies and Animal Shelters in your area on a daily basis to see if your dog might have been turned in. Dogs can wander farther than you think. Extend your search for at least 25 miles from the last place you saw your dog. If it is too hard to get to the “edge of your search range”, make sure that the Animal Shelters and Humane Societies out there have your dog’s picture and your contact information. Call them every few days.
- Go to www.FidoFinder.com to register your dog and to determine if anyone has listed him as found.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training professionals for over seventeen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.