Find out how to Shield Your Canine and Get Him Again If He’s Stolen

Would your dog walker take a bullet to protect your dogs? None of us would ever want to believe that we or our dog walkers could be placed in this position, but that is exactly what happened to Lady Gaga’s dog walkers.

Lady Gaga’s dog walker Ryan Fisher, a close family friend, was walking the dogs when several people got out of a car and attacked him. Footage shared by CNN and other news outlets can be heard of Fisher fighting back and trying to protect Lady Gaga’s French bulldogs from the Dognappers when he was shot in the chest. Two of the dogs were stolen while Lady Gaga’s bodyguard found a third Miss Asia.

Fortunately, Fisher survived the attack and is expected to recover. The dogs Gustav and Koji were recovered.

As a dog parent, one of my worst nightmares is dognapping and I am obsessed with the safety of my own dog, but I still worry. How do you prevent dognapping? What can you do if your dog is stolen and how can you get a stolen dog back? Are certain breeds or types of dogs more likely than others? Here’s what dog parents need to know about dognapping.

Is dognapping common?

The story of Lady Gaga’s stolen dogs is particularly frightening and, sadly, not as unusual as you might think. Earlier this year, a San Francisco woman was robbed at gunpoint and her French bulldog puppy was stolen from her.

An estimated two million pets are stolen each year in the United States. And the incidence of dognapping is believed to increase due to the increased demand for dogs and puppies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Kennel Club, which records cases of dog theft from its National Pet Theft Database, has seen dognappings increase by 31 percent in recent years. Newly stolen dogs are reported daily from communities across the country.

Dognappings have increased by 31% in recent years. Photography by Pedro Vidal / Shutterstock.

Why do dognappings occur?

Dognappings happen for many reasons, and dogs can change hands multiple times after being stolen, making them even more difficult to find. Thieves often steal dogs in hopes of making money from them. This could be someone looking to collect a reward, or something even more sinister.

Intact dogs (canines that have not been spayed or neutered) can be sold to puppy mills or backyard breeders, small dogs or dogs of more popular, more expensive breeds can be taken and resold, or dogs can be sold either as fighters or to dog fighting rings.

According to the Pet FBI, some of the best small dogs meant for money include purebred Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians, Maltese and Chihuahuas, while pit bulls, Boston terriers, German shepherds and boxers fall victim to theft for dog fight rings. In recent years, there has been an increase in dognappings from small dogs in NYC in exchange for cash. This is sometimes referred to as “dog flipping,” where people take or even respond to lost dog advertisements and then resell those dogs for a profit. If your dog is ever stolen, contact law enforcement in your area right away.

How can you protect your dog?

Never leave your dog unattended in public places or in your yard. Unsupervised dogs are easy targets for Dognappers. Do not leave your dog unattended in public. If you run errands that are not dog friendly, leave your dog at home.

Be proactive about dognapping. Hopefully your dog will never be missed, but you will have to prove he is yours if he does. Microchip your dog and make sure your contact information with your microchip company is up to date. Thieves could remove a collar and tags, but microchips are permanent forms of identification for your dog.

Hire professionals when it comes to zookeepers. While we can only hope that our dog walkers and dog sitters are as protective as Gaga’s and literally take a bullet to protect our dogs, realistically the most important thing is to make sure we hire qualified and experienced professionals. In the past few years, there have been several high profile cases of dogs in the care of dog sitters gone missing – and never seen again. Only hire responsible, insured, and trustworthy zookeepers and always check references before hiring a hiker, daycare center, or babysitter.

Be careful with overly nosy strangers. Be very careful with your dog’s information. Sometimes Dognappers try to determine how much a dog is worth and whether they have been neutered or neutered before taking it. Distract yourself and avoid answering detailed questions from strangers – especially about how much your dog cost.

What to do if someone steals your dog

Get help. Call the police and your local animal control department immediately. Submit a police report.

Talk to everyone. Try to find any witnesses who may have seen the dognapping. This will help you and the police get information about who has or has had your dog. Instantly distribute fresh, clear photos of your dog.

Research and use every available resource. Find local lost and found items online and on Facebook. Other helpful websites are:

Contact the media. Social media sites like Facebook go a long way towards promoting lost or stolen dogs. Don’t forget to check out your local media – newspapers, television, and radio – to improve coverage of your dog’s disappearance.

Protect yourself too. People whose dogs are missing are prone to further exploitation. I can’t even imagine how desperate I would be if something happened to one of my dogs – I’d want to do everything in my power to get them back.

The Better Business Bureau warns pet owners to watch out for scammers who are demanding reward money before returning the missing dog.

For example someone who calls to say he’s a truck driver who found your dog out of state and asks for money to bring your dog back to your state or someone who says he needs money on plane tickets and a box to send your lost dog back.

Featured image: Getty Images

Continue reading: When should you call an emergency doctor and how do you find one?

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