FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: AKC Communications
Date: December 22, 2009 Phone: 212-696-8343
AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB CAUTIONS OWNERS
PET THEFTS CONTINUE TO RISE; STATE
LAWMAKERS CONSIDER MAKING ‘DOG-NAPPING’ A SERIOUS CRIME
– AKC Appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America
Highlights Prevalence of Trend and Reminds Owners to Keep Pets Safe –
New York, NY – 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
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
Julie Austin of Idaho told Local News 8
that she was shocked when her 11-week-old puppy was stolen right out of the
arms of her 5-year-old daughter while she was sitting in a public park. The Austins filed a stolen
pet report with the local police. Fortunately, after they alerted the media and
the police received a tip about their pet’s whereabouts their puppy was
recovered living at someone else’s home. The alleged thief was recently charged
with a misdemeanor possession of stolen property.
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
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
In response to this
continuing trend, AKC offers the following advice to prevent your “best friend”
from being the target of a crime. See more about pet theft on the Good Morning America Web site.
In the Neighborhood
- Don’t let your dog off-leash – Keeping
your dog close to you reduces the likelihood it will wander off and catch
the attention of thieves.
- Don’t leave your dog unattended in your yard – Dogs
left outdoors for long periods of time are targets, especially if your
fenced-in yard is visible from the street.
Cautious with information – If
strangers approach you to admire your dog during walks, don’t answer
questions about how much the dog cost or give details about where you live.
On the Road
- Never leave your dog in an unattended car, even
if it’s locked – Besides the obvious health risks this
poses to the dog, it’s also an invitation for thieves, even if you
are gone for only a moment. Leaving expensive items in the car such as a
GPS unit or laptop will only encourage break-ins and possibly allow the
dog to escape, even if the thieves don’t decide to steal it too.
tie your dog outside a store –
This popular practice among city-dwelling dog owners can be a recipe for disaster.
If you need to go shopping, patronize only dog-friendly retailers or leave
the dog at home.
- Protect your dog with microchip identification –
and tags can be removed so make sure you have permanent ID with a microchip.
Thieves will not know the dog has a microchip until a veterinarian or
shelter worker scans it so keep contact information current with your
microchip recovery service provider.
- Lost Pet Alert - AKC
Companion Animal Recovery is the exclusive pet recovery service working
with helpmefindMYPET.com to help owners locate stolen or lost pets. Once
you report your dog missing an e-mail alert is sent to area vets,
shelters, and animal control agencies, within a 50-mile radius, to notify
them to be on the lookout. For more information, enroll your pet in a
24-hour recovery service and sign-up for the Lost Pet Alert visit www.akccar.org.
- If you
suspect your dog has been stolen
– Immediately call the police / animal control officer in the area
your pet was last seen and file a police report. If your dog has a
microchip, ask to have that unique serial number, along with the dog’s
description, posted in the “stolen article” category on the National Crime Information
- Canvass the neighborhood –
Talk to people in the immediate vicinity where your pet went missing for
possible sightings of the actual theft.
- Have fliers with a recent photo ready to go if your
dog goes missing – Keep several
current photos (profile and headshot) of your dog in your wallet or on an
easily accessible web account so that you can distribute immediately if
your pet goes missing.
- Contact the media – Call the local TV station, radio station and
newspaper and ask to have a web post put out about your missing pet.
DON’T BUY STOLEN PETS
buy dogs from the internet, flea markets, or roadside vans –There
is simply no way to verify where an animal purchased from any of these outlets
came from. Web sites and online classifieds are easily falsified,
and with roadside or flea market purchases not only do you not know the
pet’s origins but you will never be able to find or identify the seller in
case of a problem.
newspaper ads may be suspect – Adult
dogs offered for sale at reduced prices, for a “relocation” fee, or
accompanied by requests for last minute shipping fees are red flags. Dog
owners who truly love their animals and are unable to keep them will opt
to find a loving home without compensation for re-homing the animal.
out reputable breeders or rescue groups – Visit the home of the breeder, meet the puppy’s
mother, and see the litter of puppies. Developing a good relationship with
the breeder will bring you peace of mind when purchasing. Contacting breed
rescue groups can also
be a safe alternative if you are looking for an adult dog.
proper papers on your purebred puppy – Ask for the AKC Litter Registration Number and contact AKC customer
service at 919-233-9767 to verify registration authenticity of your
The American Kennel Club (AKC), proudly celebrates its 125th
Anniversary in 2009. Since 1884 the not-for-profit organization has maintained
the largest registry of purebred dogs in the world, and today its rules govern
more than 20,000 canine competitions each year. The AKC is dedicated to
upholding the integrity of its registry, promoting the sport of purebred dogs
and breeding for type and function. Along with its nearly 5,000 licensed and
member clubs and its affiliated organizations, the AKC advocates for the
purebred dog as a family companion, advances canine health and well-being,
works to protect the rights of all dog owners and promotes responsible dog
ownership. Affiliate AKC organizations include the AKC Humane Fund, AKC Canine
Health Foundation, AKC Companion Animal Recovery and the AKC Museum
of the Dog. For more information, visit www.akc.org.
American Kennel Club, the American Kennel Club seal and design, and all
associated marks and logos are trademarks, registered trademarks and service
marks of The American Kennel Club, Inc.