Pet Owners Beware: Dognapping on the Rise

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CLEVELAND -- Shocking new numbers from the American Kennel Club (AKC) reveal an increase in dognapping cases across the country.

"I would say the number-one for 2011, I saw being stolen, is the Yorkshire Terrier,” said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. "In the beginning when I was tracking it, we were looking at purebred dogs that were being stolen, but now I see more-and-more mixed breed dogs, I see a lot of pit bull-type dogs being stolen, I see more dogs also being taken from shelters which is unusual."

According to the year-end figures from 2011, the AKC saw a 70% increase in dognapping cases, in comparison to 2010.  In 2011, 432 dogs were recorded stolen by the New York-based organization.  In 2007, when the AKC started keeping track of the information, only 10 were reported. The Yorkshire Terrier, Pomeranian, Maltese and Boston Terrier all topped the annual list of most stolen dogs.

"Theft sort of runs the gamut,” said Peterson. “You have people taking them from pet stores and shelters now, they've been taken during home invasions--or another one, is out of parked cars."  According to Peterson, the usually pricey smaller dogs are targeted because people want them for themselves, they’re often given as gifts or they’re taken to re-sell and make money.

"If you look in the newspaper or look in some of the stores, you're talking 12 to 14-hundred dollars for a Yorkie,” said Marti Drozdik.  For more than a decade, Marti has been working with local breeders to place puppies in homes. She finds homes for approximately 20 dogs each month and last year, a thief stole a puppy from her store near Youngstown.  "We kept thinking, someone's gonna come back with it, they never came back--of course. I don't know if it's attributed to the economy, but you should pay for it--if you want something, pay for it."

To keep your dog from disappearing, the AKC recommends you don’t leave them in your vehicle. If you’re away during the day, leave your pet in the house and never give out personal information or discuss the cost.

Jennifer Brunson, from Cleveland’s west side, said her dog vanished from her yard last year. "My son was devastated, he couldn't even go to school."  Kola is a Schnauzer and was purchased from an out-of-state breeder for a thousand-dollars last year.  In December, Kola disappeared from her yard but was recently returned when someone saw an ad for the dog on Craigslist.  "We drove around the neighborhood, screaming 'Kola, Kola, Kola,' and I didn't see her, my son was devastated. He couldn't even go to school."

The AKC recommends every dog owner have a microchip implanted in their pet with a current address. For more information, visit the American Kennel Club at www.AKC.org.

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