By Anne Wills
Executive Director Dogs Finding Dogs, K9 Search and Rescue for All Missing Pets
Every holiday season, Dogs Finding Dogs, Inc., sees a rise in the theft of our little furry family members! This indeed is despicable and very sad. With working with the local police agencies and executing our now perfected Stolen Dog Plan of Action, we are successful in returning most of these pets back home safe and sound.
Dogs Finding Dogs, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit charity since 2007. We work off of donations. With 8 dogs working the streets 7 days a week and fielding now up to 20 calls for help a day, the rise in pet theft has risen to nearly 62%! The majority of this percentage is dogs with the remainder broken down to cats, horses, ferets and tortoises. During the holiday season the rise will go up into the 80 percentile!
Why does pet theft increase during the holidays?
One can say the economy is the main driving factor. It is easier to steal a dog from a yard or car and wait for a reward to be posted than go to work all week and make a paycheck. A real quick buck! Pets are also stolen to give as gifts, however this is a small percentage and usually is based right around the actual holiday. As people feel the pressure of needing to buy those holiday gifts the temptation to find some easy cash kicks in.
There are many other reasons for the rise in theft. Drug money! This is increasing every year as the usage of drugs becomes greater. And hand in hand with this type of thief goes the theft to breed a dog and the worst case scenario, to fight the dogs and use them as bait! Many of our trackers suffer horribly with the images that we have had to see when running a case of such! At times it becomes too hard to bare.
So, What is the Answer?
The answer is that we as pet owners need to step it up, not only at the holidays but also year round. We need to be more responsible and keep a better eye on our pets. We tend to get lazy. It’s raining out. I’ll let the dog out in the yard instead of walking it. I’m tired. I’ll just lay down and take a nap while the dog stays in the yard. I’ll just leave the dog in the car while I run into the store. My dog never goes out of the front yard, even though there is no fence in the yard. Any of this sound familiar?
Then there is the unusual. My dog disappeared and the neighbors had hired contractors to cut the grass, work on the house or lay carpet. There were strangers in the neighborhood trying to sell magazines. I kicked out my roommate and did not change the locks. And finally, my dog got out of the yard because I did not check to see if the gate was locked and it was intercepted by someone who does not want to give my pet back.
All of these are true and they happen everyday! Remember, 62% of our dog cases are thefts. It jumps up in the 80’s during the holiday season. If we stop and think “Would I let my 3 year old toddler out in the yard alone, or in the car by himself?”, we would quickly take the extra time and effort to make sure that they are safe!
Some clues to look for…
The pet thieves think they are slick. They will case your house looking to see when your dog is out in the yard. They will toss food over the fence so your dog who usually resource guards at strangers will associate these thieves with a reward. Now they are a friendly stranger. It is now easier to put a leash on them and walk them out of your yard and into a car. Do a visual of your yard when you let your pet out.
A lot of times the person who has stolen your pet knows who you are. It’s a neighbor, one of your kids friends, a disgruntled roommate or ex-partner. Be suspicious of everyone! It’s the person who marvels over how sweet your pet is. They make the comment “I wish I had a dog just like yours!” The thieves again will try to gain your trust but at the same time they are concocting their plan on how they can take your pet. They in essence are building their getaway plan. Again, change the locks, get an alarm system, watch your pet while it is outside at all times! Make sure your gates are pad locked and preferably have a 6 foot privacy fence. We don’t want people to be paranoid but diligence with our pet’s safety is lacking in almost every household. All neighborhoods of every economic level are effected.
Lets take the case of Magoo, a small little 15 year old dog who was walked off of a leash at the Patapsco State Park. He gets away and is stolen and taken to Dundalk. He then is sold to a prostitute in Brooklyn. It took Dogs Finding Dogs 6 solid weeks and the help of the Baltimore Police to get Magoo back home safe and sound.
The case of Sadie and Charley, both German Shepherds, were literally walked out of their yard and were used for dog fighting. It took us using a tracking dog to identify their scents at drug house. Anne Arundel County police raided the house and recovered the dogs. They were being tossed chicken over the fence. The owners had seen the chicken in the yard but did not put the connection together.
Kevin was stolen out of the car while his owner went shopping in a convenience store. Video tape was obtained of the thief. Postings were made that brought in leads that led us to the house where he was held. The search dog went straight to the door. Prince Georges County police assisted and Kevin was returned.
As sited in the Baltimore Sun this past March. The theft of pets is on the rise.
So what else can we do when our pets are stolen?
Here is a quick action plan when our pet goes missing.
- PLEASE Call Dogs Finding Dogs at 410-908-6374. The quicker we get on the case the better success you will have. The scent of your pet needs to be followed quickly to see what has happened. Then a more accurate action plan can be enacted. And if your pet is stolen….look out! The pressure will be poured on.
- Instantly do a Findtoto.com phone call alert. This alert calls every house and business using your home as the center point and fans out in a radius. It is done very well and people DO listen to it. Judge how many phone calls you need to cover a mile radius off of your house. If you suspect that your pet has been stolen, Findtoto has a stolen alert that can be executed.
- Post your pet up on Craigslist under the lost and found section. This is the number one place that is used.
- Post up on Facebook. Just about every county has a Lost and Found page. There is also one for the entire state of Maryland
- Flyers! Flyers! Flyers! And make them simple. Lost Dog/Cat/etc. Picture. Phone number and Reward. Do not publish a dollar amount. Flyer to almost insult someones intelligence. This will insure that your flyers are looked at. Put them into clear plastic sheet protectors and use bright duct tape to attract the eye.
- Call the shelters and visit every 3 days. Do not let them call you. Mistakes have been made.
- If your pet is microchipped, call the company and hot list them.
- Notify the veterinarians in your area.
- Write down every single phone number of any person that calls you whether they seem genuine or not. Don’t be fooled! If you are sent a email, try to engage the person to speak to you on the phone. We reverse numbers, find out relatives of who has called and put the pressure on in many ways that help to get clues.
- Be guarded against internet services that request money. There are several scams on the internet.
One promises to send flyers to vets, call numbers and more for a very low price. They put up postings on Craigslist that redirects you to their website. They will play on the Findtoto name. If you look closely you will see the hyperlinks reflect this. Any questions…..call Dogs Finding Dogs and we will advise you.
Another scam will call you and state for 100 bucks or so they will have 50 people out on the ground looking for your pet immediately and if your pet is not found in 24 hours your money will be returned….yeah right!
This basic plan of action is a MUST DO. No skimping or wasting time. It is the best steps you can do to find your furry family member.
Dogs Finding Dogs’ slogan is “Our Noses Know Where Your Pet Goes”. We do not turn down a plea for help! But in the case of stolen pets we need to do much more to compliment the Search and Rescue dogs. The cases are identical to tracking down a criminal who just kidnapped a child, stole your car or broke into your home. It’s detective work. The search dogs help us in many ways. They show us what we humans cannot begin to determine. They smell your pet where it may be. They are intimidating when pranced thru the neighborhood of the thieves. There’s no better feeling of “I’ve Gotcha!” when my dog tracks straight to the house of the S.O.B. who has stolen your pet. And when we show up with the cops on hand it’s priceless to see the look on the thief’s face. Remember, thieves are not smart! They always tip their hands or are ratted out. It takes clever work to unveil them. The faster you take charge the better. The more protective over your pets that you are, the safer they will be.
Our pets our like our children. All of the staff at Dogs Finding Dogs wishes that pet theft did not exist. We have been rudely awakened over the years to see the lack of compassion that exists when a person steals a pet. Maybe, just maybe, if the thief would stop and think how it would feel if their pet were stolen they may think twice on stealing, Kevin or Magoo….and you know what? We have had the drug dealers pet stolen. The guy who wants to sell your dog for a quick buck. Ironically, they are very distraught….I ask myself where is the humanity? Then we buckle down, think of the pet and do everything in our arsenal to get it back home safe and sound.
If you need help with your missing pet or know someone who does, please contact Dogs Finding Dogs at 410-908-6374 or visit our website at www.DogsFindingDogs.com.