Stolen Dogs: Nine Ways to Prevent Theft

Just before walking into a Manhattan deli, a man ties his dog to a parking meter outside the store. He grabs a coffee, pays for it and walks out. Total time: about 5 minutes.

The dog is gone without a trace. He never sees him again. Unfortunately, this is not a made-up scenario to highlight a growing problem. “This happens frequently,” notes Linda Fields, a journalist who founded, a nonprofit pet locater site, where people can post pictures and notices of lost pets.

Dog theft is a crime that is hard to measure in statistics. Some have put the number of total pet thefts at 2 million a year. (Because pets are considered property, the numbers are lumped with other property crimes). However, it is often hard to discern whether a pet was stolen or simply wandered off and got lost. In her experience, Fields estimates that about 10 percent of the 1,460 dogs listed on were stolen.

According to National Pet Recovery, a private pet recovery company, about 41 percent of the cases reported to them involved a stolen dog. About 47 percent of lost dogs were those allowed to run loose.

Whatever the numbers, dogs are stolen for several reasons:

Some animal rights and welfare people also say that stolen dogs often wind up at laboratories across the country. Under a procurement practice called “random source collection,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture licenses individuals to sell animals to laboratories.

Keeping Your Dog Safe