The American Kennel Club® continues to remind pet owners to heed warnings about an alarming rise in “dog-nappings.” State houses across America have taken notice and are proposing laws to toughen penalties for those who steal pets.
Since last year, when AKC® first noted concerns about the prevalence of pet theft, more dogs are disappearing. Through November 30, 2009, the AKC has tracked more than 115 missing pets via incidents reported by news media and customer reports. In 2008, the AKC tracked a total of 71 thefts.
The FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which tracks stolen property nationwide, currently lists 200 stolen dogs, according to Steve Fischer, FBI Spokesperson. According to Fischer, “Dogs listed in our database must have permanent owner-applied serial numbers, such as those from embedded microchips. Unfortunately not all dogs have permanent ID, so we know this is only a fraction of the number of missing dogs.”
“Each week I am reading about reports of pet theft from all around the country,” said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “Some owners, desperate to find their beloved pets have contacted us, wanting to know what they can do to help get their ‘family’ members back. It’s not just about the financial value of the dog for any of these people. It’s an emotional attachment that can’t be replaced by getting another dog.”
As a majority of owners view their dogs as valued family members, the value of pets in people’s lives are being recognized by legislators across America. Recently in New York, following the disappearance of a Siberian Husky in his Brooklyn district, New York Assemblyman Joseph Lentol vowed to introduce dog-napping legislation which would make the theft of a companion animal a felony offense with up to four years in jail depending on the circumstances.
Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in Texas which would have made it a state felony to steal a pet, including the family dog, with a possible two years in prison if convicted. California and Delaware have tried to regulate roadside pet sales as a way to combat the trafficking of stolen pets to unsuspecting consumers.
Regardless of the reason thieves are taking pets, whether to sell to unsuspecting local buyers or over the Internet or keeping them for personal use, these criminals need to know that pet owners are becoming more proactive by keeping pets close to them and also microchipping their pets ahead of time so that when these dogs turn up at shelters or veterinarian offices they can be scanned to find their rightful owners.