Is Dognapping Now Becoming a Scary Trend?

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Sunday March 14 was Dog Theft Awareness Day and with that in mind we decided to do a little investigation into the lucrative, but growing, business behind dognapping.

One recent incident which sparked considerable coverage online involves Lady Gaga’s dog walker, her three French Bulldogs and a gun.

Yes, you read right… a gun.

Lady G’s dog walker, Ryan Fischer, was out walking her three Frenchie’s when two men approached him and attempted to take the dogs from him.

Fischer alleges that he managed to hold off the men for a while by tightly clutching the dogs, however, the men became violent when they couldn’t get what they wanted and actually shot Fischer in the chest.

Two out of three bulldogs were taken and Fischer managed to save the third one.

Fortunately, Fischer is recovering from his wound and all three dogs have been returned by a woman who found the two dogs tied up on the street.

But is the story really that unusual?

Hundreds of crimes related to dog napping are being reported each year in New South Wales and Victoria.

Independent researcher and journalist William Summers, discloses that from 2013-2017 “Victoria Police were asked to investigate 919 cases of dog theft… an average of 184 incidents per year. In NSW, 800 dogs had been reported stolen, averaging 160 each year.”

In NSW, “only 27 percent of these cases were resolved (including cases withdrawn) while the other 73 percent went unsolved” and in Victoria the statistics for solved dog napping crimes were unavailable.

But why would someone want to steal somebody else’s dog?

According to the I Heart Dogs website, “some dogs are stolen to be used in illegal fighting rings, others are re-sold as pets for a lot of cash or even bred so that their puppies can be sold.”

The Australian Dog Lover site states that the breeds that are most vulnerable to theft are those which produce high value through re-sale. “The most likely victims are the fashionable breeds such as Pugs, French Bulldogs, Chihuahuas and those with unusual colouring.”

However, it’s worth being vigilant even if your dog isn’t one of those breeds.

As the prices for dogs go up over time, this likely appeals to thieves because they can potentially make a lot of money from the re-sale of a designer dog.

For instance, according to the Quicky Podcast, the average price in Australia for a French Bulldog puppy can be anywhere from around “4000-6000 dollars, but there are actually some versions of French Bulldogs that can go up to 20 or 30,000 dollars.” Meaning thieves can make a lot of money.

At this point, you may be feeling frustrated and rightly so (we are too).

You may even be wondering what the consequences actually are for stealing somebody else’s furry friend?

And the answer is that it differs between states.

Australian Criminal & Family Lawyers (ACFL) claim that NSW is the strictest state and actually has a separate law for dog theft versus regular theft whereas Victoria does not.

In NSW “the maximum penalty for the offence of stealing a dog is imprisonment for one year, whereas the maximum penalty for a regular stealing offence is five years imprisonment.”

“This law is fascinating because by virtue of the difference in the maximum penalties, a person essentially commits a more serious offence by stealing a grocery item than stealing a dog.”

How can we avoid our dogs being stolen?

Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee that your pet won’t be taken, but we do have some tips to decrease the chances of it happening:

1. Ensure that your pet is microchipped

2. Try to avoid situations like leaving your dog tied to a pole outside, if you are not there with them

3. Avoid leaving your dog in the car

4. Don’t always tag the location of your fur baby’s whereabouts on social media

Unfortunately, it is not just a case of dogs being stolen, Summers states that “In 2017, NSW crime figures show dozens of other creatures being illegally taken from their owners including 14 cats, 34 birds, 5 lizards, 16 reptiles and even a pet goat.”

This means that you need to exercise caution with all of your pets.

By Adair Winder.

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