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10 Shocking Dognapping & Dog Theft Statistics & Facts: 2024 Update

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Dognapping Facts & Statistics

Dognapping is a real and serious crime that seems to be increasing both in the US and abroad. It’s an unfortunate reality that can affect everyone that owns a dog. Many pet owners have experienced the loss of their beloved companion due to theft.

In recent years, the rate of dog rate theft is a reminder of the importance of taking precautions to protect our furry family members. It’s also vital to understand the reasons why dogs are being stolen, and to recognize the important statistics associated with this issue. By understanding the facts and figures, we can better prepare ourselves to prevent and combat dog theft.

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Top 10 Dognapping Statistics

  1. Labrador Retrievers are among the most popular dog breeds in the United States but are also one of the most dognapped.
  2. Most dog theft involves purebred dog breeds.
  3. The state of Virginia has one of the most serious dog sentences, with dog theft being considered a class 5 felony which is punishable up to 10 years in jail.
  4. Every year, roughly two million dogs are stolen from their owners in the United States.
  5. Over 190 dogs were taken each month in 2020 in the United Kingdom.
  6. Over 80% of the missing dogs and cats in the United States are never found.
  7. A 2007 study on pet theft showed that most dogs and cats that were found were due to a call or visit by an animal agency or shelter.
  8. Common reasons for pet theft include dogs being sold to puppy mills or thieves looking to collect a financial reward from the owner, among others.
  9. 70% of American homes are at risk from pet theft.
  10. In France, studies show that more than 75,000 dogs are stolen each year.
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Breed Preferences & State Laws

1. Labrador Retrievers are among the most popular dog breeds in the United States but are also one of the most dognapped.

(Reader’s Digest)

According to the AKC (American Kennel Club), the most common kidnapped dog breed includes the Boston Terrier, German Shepherd, Labradoodle, Pomeranian, Labrador Retriever, French Bulldog, Chihuahua, Maltese, American Pit Bull Terrier, and the Yorkshire Terrier.

These dogs are popular due to either their small size, friendly temperament, easy trainability, or a combination. So, if you own one of these breeds it’s a good idea to take precautionary measures to ensure your pet’s safety, such as using leashes when outdoors, being hyper-vigilant when it’s less crowded and obscure outdoors spaces, and even microchipping.

Labrador Retriever
Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain, PXfuel

2. Most dog theft involves purebred dog breeds.

(Paws.org)

One of the main causes of dog theft is the growing demand for purebred dogs. As the popularity of certain breeds grows, so too does the number of people willing to pay a premium to own one. Many people are willing to pay thousands of dollars for a purebred puppy, and this has led to an increase in the number of thefts of them by people looking to make a quick buck.

In addition, there is a growing trend of people looking for specific traits in their dogs. This includes everything from physical characteristics such as size and coat color, to personality traits such as intelligence and trainability. This has led to an increase in the demand for certain breeds, making them an attractive target for thieves.


3. The state of Virginia has one of the most serious dognapping sentences, with dog theft being considered a class 5 felony which is punishable up to 10 years in jail.

(Tingen Law)

This is the case even if the dog’s monetary value is low. This suggests that dog and cat theft is taken seriously, so that pet owners can feel safe knowing that their beloved dogs are being protected.

In addition to the severe punishments for dog theft, the state of Virginia also offers a variety of resources to pet owners to help them protect their canine companions. This includes providing assistance with microchipping, providing educational materials about pet safety and security, and even offering assistance with recovering a stolen pet.

miniature schnauzer dog at the park
Image Credit: Roman Zaiets, Shutterstock

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Theft Numbers & Recovery

4. Every year, roughly two million dogs are stolen from their owners in the United States.

(Lost Pet Research and Recovery)

Not only does this cause emotional distress to the owners, but it also creates an issue with animal overpopulation and animal cruelty. Theft of pets is a crime that often goes unpunished, as it is difficult to track down the stolen animal.

It’s estimated that only 10% of stolen pets are ever recovered, leaving the rest to fend for themselves or be sold to pet stores, research facilities, or worse. This crime is often overlooked by law enforcement, as it does not get the same attention as other crimes such as burglary or larceny.


5. Over 190 dogs were taken each month in 2020 in the United Kingdom.

(The Kennel Club)

The rise in the number of dogs taken can be attributed to the fact that more people were staying at home and spending more time with their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that they have more time to care for a pet and this has led to an increase in the demand for dogs as pets. Additionally, people are now becoming more aware of the benefits of having a pet in the home such as companionship, unconditional love, and loyalty.

Also, the United Kingdom has seen a rise in the number of animal rescue centers and organizations dedicated to re-homing dogs (such as local Dog Trust offices). These organizations have been actively seeking homes for rescued dogs.

miniature black schnauzer dog meet his owner near white fence
Image Credit: RealPeopleStudio, Shutterstock

6. Over 80% of the missing dogs and cats in the United States are never found.

(Adobe Animal Hospital)

This statistic can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as the fact that many owners may not be taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their furry friends. For example, pet owners may neglect to properly train their pet or keep them on a leash when outside, leaving them vulnerable to becoming stolen or lost. In addition, many pets today in the US still aren’t microchipped nor wear a collar which displays their owner’s contact information, making it difficult to return back home if they’re taken or lost.


7. A 2007 study on pet theft showed that most dogs and cats that were found were due to a call or visit by an animal agency or shelter.

(Lost Pet Research and Recovery)

This finding indicates that animal shelters and agencies play an important role in reuniting pet owners with their lost pets. The study was conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and revealed that only 13% of pets that were stolen were reunited with their owners without the help of a shelter or agency.

It also found that over half of the pets that were recovered were found within one week of the pet being reported stolen. This, in turn, suggests that pet owners should contact animal agencies or shelters as quickly as possible as soon as their pet goes missing. The sooner an agency or shelter is contacted, perhaps the better the chances of the pet being found and returned to its rightful owner.

And lastly, the study revealed that most pet owners were not aware of the importance of microchipping their pet. Microchipping is a quick, simple, and painless procedure that helps to identify a pet if it is lost or stolen. The same study showed that only 8% of the recovered pets were microchipped, indicating that more pet owners should be aware of the benefits of microchipping their pets.

veterinarian microchipping beagle dog with syringe
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

divider 10Dog Theft Causes

8. Common reasons for pet theft include dogs being sold to puppy mills or thieves looking to collect a financial reward from the owner, among others.

(Paws.org)

Pets, especially dogs, are often stolen around the globe for many reasons. They can be resold to puppy mills for breeding, used to collect rewards from owners in distress, sold to research and veterinary institutions, or even as companion pets. Pets may also be stolen for their use in illegal activities such as fighting, or for the animal’s fur, organs, or meat.

Regardless of the reason for theft, the consequences of stolen pets can be devastating for the animal and their owners. In some cases, stolen pets may experience physical and/or psychological abuse, and all pets can suffer from stress and anxiety due to the sudden change in environment. These poor pets may also be more prone to health problems due to the lack of proper care they receive while in the hands of their perpetrators.


9. 70% of American homes are at risk from pet theft.

(MDPI)

Also, one-third of all American dogs and cats go missing in their lifetimes. This particular statistic is especially alarming, and it suggests that it’s important to understand the risk factors associated with pet theft in order to keep our pets safe. The most common victims of pet theft are small breeds of dogs, cats, and birds. These animals are often seen as being easy to steal (due to their small size and non-aggressive nature) and are often taken to be sold on the black market.

girl playing with corgi dog at home
Image Credit: BONDART PHOTOGRAPHY, Shutterstock

10. In France, studies show that more than 75,000 dogs are stolen each year.

(The Connexion France)

But why is this? In France, like with many other parts of the world, the majority of dog theft occurs in public places such as parks, streets and beaches. However, some thefts are also reported to occur in private homes, particularly when the dog is left alone.

The current state of dog theft in France is likely due to the increasing demand for “designer breeds”, which are often more expensive than traditional breeds. Another factor contributing to the rise of dog theft in France is the lack of adequate punishments for those found guilty. Currently, the maximum sentence for dog theft is three years in prison, and the fines are relatively low.

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Essential Tips to Prevent Dog Theft

As a dog owner, you can take measured steps to protect your dog from being stolen. So, let’s discuss some essential tips to help you secure your furry friend and prevent dog theft. From keeping track of your pet’s microchip information to creating a secure backyard and even investing in a GPS tracker, these tips will help you keep your pup safe.

Microchip Your Pet

As mentioned earlier, consider microchipping your dog. A microchip is effective, and it’ll keep track of your dog if it’s stolen or lost. Think of it like a car tracker. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s implanted under your pet’s skin and contains a unique identification number. So, if your dog is ever lost or stolen, the chip can be used to help reunite you with your pet.

Note that you’ll need to keep your pet’s microchip information up to date. If you move or change your phone number, make sure to update the contact information associated with the microchip. This will help ensure that if your pet is ever lost or stolen, you can be contacted quickly.

microchipping a husky
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

Keep Your Dog’s Tags Up to Date

You’ll also want to keep your dog’s tags up to date. These tags help identify your dog in case they get lost or stolen. Make sure to include your dog’s name, your contact information, and any medical information that may be relevant. This will help ensure that if your dog is ever lost or stolen, you can be contacted quickly, and your dog can be returned to you if it is recovered.

And it wouldn’t hurt to include a photo of your pet on their tags. A photo can help distinguish your pet from other pets that may look similar and can also help strangers identify your pet if they find them.

Create a Secure Backyard

Creating a secure backyard is an essential step in preventing dog theft, especially if you often let your dog run around the backyard without the leash. Make sure to install a high-quality fence around the perimeter of your yard and ensure that it’s locked at all times. If possible, install motion-sensor lights around the perimeter of the yard, as this will deter thieves from attempting to steal your pet. If you can’t be around to watch your dog, consider investing in a pet door that locks.

dog beside pool fence
Image Credit: whitejellybeans, Shutterstock

Invest in a GPS Tracker

GPS trackers are becoming increasingly popular among pet owners, and pretty much work the same as a microchip – but without the surgical implant. These devices attach to your pet’s collar and use GPS technology to track their location. This can be especially useful if your dog is ever lost or stolen. Not only will you be able to track their location, but you’ll also be able to receive alerts if your pet leaves a designated area.

Be Wary of Strangers

This may seem obvious, but you always want to be aware of strangers when you’re out with your dog. Many of us read the unfortunate headline of Lady Gaga’s French Bulldogs being stolen while her dog sitter was in care of them. It helps to be hypervigilant, as thieves may target you when you least expect it, and they may use lethal force to steal your dog.

Even if you live in an area that has low crime rates, you still may be a target, so hypervigilance is necessary when you’re out with your dog, particularly if you are on one of the most commonly stolen dog breeds. If possible, try to keep your pet close to you at all times and always look around when moving through transitional spaces such as the car, home or building entrances, or garage.

corgi dog barking
Image Credit: Bachkova Natalia, Shutterstock

Get Pet Insurance

Finally, it’s a good idea to invest in pet insurance. Pet insurance can help cover the costs associated with medical care, lost pets, and more. This can be especially helpful if your pet is ever lost or stolen. Insurance can help cover the costs associated with searching for your pet or even offering a reward for their return. It can also help cover the costs associated with medical care if your pet is ever injured or ill. Today you can get a decent insurance plan for your dog for around $20 a month so, it’s worth shopping around a bit for quotes.

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Conclusion

Dog theft is a crime that is still on the rise in the US and abroad, and it’s critical to be aware of the risks and take precautions to protect your pet, particularly when you’re outdoors. By understanding the causes of dog theft, such as the growing demand for purebred dogs and the lack of laws and regulations to protect pet owners, we can take action to protect our furry companions and really bring more attention to this issue.

 

Featured Image Credit: Jub-Job, Shutterstock

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