The American Kennel Club received 432 reports of stolen dogs in 2011, which doesn’t seem like a whole lot. But considering that that figure is more than twice what it was in 2009, and that most owners don’t report their missing pets to the AKC, and a disturbing trend begins to emerge. And certain Baltimore neighborhoods are being targeted more than others.
According to Pet Place, thieves nab dogs for three main reasons: to collect a ransom or reward; to use the pup as bait in dog-fighting training (ugh); or in “cult rituals.” I’m not so sure about that last one, but the first two situations are upsetting enough. According to the Baltimore Sun, the BARCS shelter receives several scarred or injured bait dogs every week. To make matters worse, NBC Philadelphia reports that small dogs in that city are being sold to research labs.
Anne Wills, founder of Arbutus-based pet finding non-profit Dogs Finding Dogs, told the Sun that dog theft is most prevalent in “Essex, Dundalk and Parkville in Baltimore County; Brooklyn Park in Anne Arundel and several West and Southwest Baltimore neighborhoods, including the Wilkens Avenue corridor.” (Interested in volunteering with one of Wills’ dog-and-human tracking teams? Find out more info here.)
While pet theft is still a relatively rare problem, it’s still worth taking a few smart precautions to keep your BFF safe:
- Keep your yard (and pet) secure. Nearly half of lost or stolen dogs were allowed to run loose. Fences, gates, and latches all exist for a reason. And if you’re not at home, bring your dog inside.
- Be friendly with your neighbors. If they know you and your pooch, they’ll be more likely to speak up if they notice a stranger creeping around.
- Make sure your dog has a collar with up-to-date info — and consider a microchip, which allows shelters and vet hospitals to identify your dog even if her collar is removed.
- Keep recent photos — both close-up and from a distance — just in case.
- Never leave your dog unattended in a car. For many reasons!