Beware of “dognapping”! While you’re reading this, another dog is being stolen somewhere in our beloved country. Thieves just can’t keep their paws off pooches – especially high-risk dogs like Pitbulls, Boerboels, Boxers, Bull terriers, Rottweilers and purebred puppies.
“It is very concerning there has been a huge increase of these incidents being reported to us especially people coming home to locked gates with no dogs,” says Cape Of Good Hope SPCA Spokesperson, Belinda Abraham. Criminals are “dognapping” furry friends for financial gain and blood sports like dogfighting. Purebred puppies are being sold for up to R60,000 and Pitbulls are being trained to be bloodthirsty monsters. Criminals aren’t only taking pets away from their beloved humans, but also contributing to animal abuse and engaging in illegal activities.
In a recent case, a group of men in a white “bakkie” stole a Rottweiler puppy in the Lansdowne/ Rondebosch area in Cape Town. Fortunately, the pup was microchipped, which made it easy to find. The dog was returned to its rightful owners after being found at the home of a drug dealer in Delft.
Capetonians are being cautioned to get their dogs chipped so that they can be traced, and ownership can be confirmed if stolen. Getting a microchip for your furry friend costs between R100 and R300 – a small price to pay to ensure your bestie’s safety.
“Having your dog stolen is a terrible experience for both owner and pet. It is important to prevent this. It is hard to recover a stolen pet if you have no idea where the person that took it is,” says Garden Route SPCA Senior Inspector, Salomé Bruyns.
Ways to prevent dog theft:
- Sterilize your dogs. Unsterilized dogs are more likely to be stolen by illegal breeders.
- Keep your dog on a leash when you go for a walk. Off-leash dogs are more likely to get lost and are easy targets for thieves.
- Never leave your dog unattended in the front yard. Fences are not enough to deter thieves. Instead, keep your dogs in your backyard under your supervision.
- Lock your gate if you must leave your dog in the yard and avoid signs like “Warning: Mastiffs” because it may draw unwanted attention from those seeking a particular breed.
- Don’t share personal information about your dog’s breed, age or history with strangers. Your answers might interest them and provoke them to steal your dog.
- Don’t leave your pooch unattended in the car. Not only is it risky for your pet’s health, but also for their safety as it may lure pet thieves.
- Don’t leave your dog outside a store. Instead, stick to only dog-friendly locations or get another human companion to tag along to look after your pooch while you’re inside the store.
- Get a microchip instead of just a regular dog tag. Strangers can easily remove the dog collar. Having your dog microchipped greatly increases the chances of you finding them as it provides proof of your ownership. According to studies dogs with microchips have a 52% chance of being returned to their owner, as opposed to less than 22% for dogs without microchips
If your dog accidentally slips out the gate or lands in the hands of a stranger with long fingers, it’s important to be proactive and persistent.
What to do if you’re a victim of dog theft:
- Contact local shelters and vets. Provide them with your personal details so that they can contact you if someone arrives with your dog.
- Monitor pets for sale or pet adoption ads in newspapers and online; checking carefully for descriptions that match your animal. This is where pet thieves try to sell dogs.
- Walk around and call your pet’s name in the area he/she was last seen. This is especially useful during the evening hours when the white noise of traffic has diminished. There is a chance your pet may hear you and respond with barking.
- If somebody claims they have found your lost animal, ask specific questions to ensure the animal is yours – particularly if you are offering a reward.
- Don’t give up on your barking buddy. Continue to post flyers, monitor websites, and check newspaper ads.
Keep our precious pooches safe and always be on the lookout for dog theft in your area. Follow the above prevention guidelines and enjoy endless adventures with your four-legged friend. Let’s stick together and stop criminals from stealing animals from their rights (and homes)!