Sunday, 11 December 2016

Dognapping and Pet Theft in America

Dognapping and Pet Theft in America

An American perspective by guest pet blogger from USA: Amber Kingsley

For the vast majority of animal lovers, our pets are just like children to us and the attachment we feel to them is just as strong as their human counterparts. In a recent post, we touched on the subject of how a family was reunited with their lost dog after seeing it for sale online, but they didn’t pursue criminal charges against those who had possession of their pet. Apparently, they were simply happy to have them home safely.

When it comes to animal theft, according to PAWS (Progressive Animal Awareness Society), purebred dogs are the most common victims of this type of crime. Toy dogs, puppies and designer breeds like the Labradoodle are often taken for their “street value” that can fetch hundreds or sometimes even thousands of dollars.

Legislation is Lacking
You would think with that kind of bounty on their heads, stealing an animal (or holding it for ransom) would be a crime with a harsh penalty to face if the thief were to be apprehended, but you’d be mistaken!
When it comes to dognapping, where the animal is taken and a monetary amount is demanded for their safe return, only one state (Virginia) considers this a felony.

Since a dog is only considered personal property, even if this type of extortion occurs, it is generally considered simply a petty theft or in some very rare cases grand theft. The difference between petty and grand theft differ from state to state, but in order to qualify for more serious charges, a certain monetary plateau must be met, typically between $500 to $1,000.

Felony or Misdemeanor?
("felony" = a crime regarded in the US and many other judicial systems as more serious than a misdemeanour.).
Usually if you can prove your pet is worth more than the amount listed in your state’s statutes, the District Attorney can pursue a felony charge. But definitively showing a dog is worth more than say, $1,000 can often be difficult to prove in the eyes of the court and usually the thief is charged with the lesser offense.

Since animal theft is most often charged simply as a misdemeanor, police are less likely to actively search for the missing victim. If there were more aggressive laws in place to prosecute thieves and protect pets, law enforcement officials would be more prone to pursue these criminals.

The Death Penalty!
Back in the days of the Wild West, people were hung from the nearest tree when they were caught stealing a horse or cattle rustling, but today most instances of pet theft are treated with a slap on the wrist. While these old time cases of horse theft and cattle raiders being put to death was a form of vigilante justice, these crimes were still considered a very, serious offense.

I think we can all safely agree that we shouldn’t be putting a price tag on a living creature. A mixed breed mutt is just as precious and priceless and a purebred pet. They should all be treated equally under the eyes of the law and there needs to be tougher legislation in place to protect our valuable pets from theft.

Read more pet related blogs from Amber Kingsley

Friday, 11 November 2016

Gundogs are Targets for Thieves!

An American perspective by guest blogger from USA: Amber Kingsley

The popular shooting website ShootingUK reminded their readers about Gun Dog Theft Awareness week in October and reported a steep rise of these uniquely trained canines as a specific target for thieves. According to their sources at the Country Land and Business Association, there was a sharp increase in the theft of hunting dogs in the first three months of the year in 2016.

Almost any dog with special skills, talents or come from pure bloodlines can be a bigger target, but apparently, gun dogs account for more than 10% of all canine thefts across England and Wales. Whether this is tied to the occurrence of hunting season, usually in the autumn and spring months, or simply part of a rising trend, it’s difficult to tell for certain.

Statistics on pet theft can be blurry at best and along with attempting to ascertain the reasoning of the thieves at large other than pure profit. Both are difficult to understand, but others believe stolen pets are being used to train other dogs inside illegal fighting rings.
Arnot Wilson, former director of The Dog Union, offers some reassurance to the monetary point of view and reasoning behind the skewed statistics. “Social media may have inflated our awareness of dog theft but until we can get accurate statistics,” laments Wilson, “We would be foolish not to assume that gun dogs are a resalable commodity.”

A and B Class Controversy In The USA
The sport of hunting itself is not without controversy, while some believe it’s an unnecessary method of killing animals, others support the practice of a way to keep some predators away from our homes, farms and livestock. Wherever you stand on the subject, the situation is still remains the same when it comes to having our dogs stolen from their rightful owners.

The United States seems to be having similar problems when it comes to dognapping and pet theft and some blame a system of animal sales defined by classes A and B. Pet dealers with a class A license must adhere to a specific set of rules and prove their animals come from a defined breeding colony, which includes a paper trail. On the other hand, those with a B class can obtain their animals from “random sources.”

The term “random sources” is so loosely defined, this could be an enormous loophole that thieves are using to pass off pets they’ve acquired through legal sources. Think of it this way, with or without a pet dealer’s license, regardless of your country of origin, dognappers can still sell animals to unsuspecting buyers who may not be aware they’re accepting stolen property. While legitimate breeders can show proof of pure bloodlines, a thief can also show a gun dog’s prowess with a quick demonstration of their skills, without paperwork to prove their origin.

It’s us as consumers to be more aware and deny the acquisition of animals that come from questionable sources. The back of a van, those found on the internet, at flea markets or other outlets aren’t a place you should consider purchasing a pet. We can help prevent the theft of pets by not buying from anyone or any place other than a licensed breeder or shelter.

Read more pet related blogs from Amber Kingsley

Graphics from the Gundog Theft Awareness Week 2017

Friday, 12 August 2016

Dog Theft Affecting The Family: Dealing With Grief & Loss

By guest blogger from USA: Amber Kingsley

Thieves, thugs, looters and louts have been causing people stress and heartache since the beginning of time. But when they take a member of our family, this presents a loss on a completely different level. It’s not like losing a material possession, our best four-legged friend has been ripped from the family and this is very traumatic.
While some of our pets can suffer from separation anxiety if we leave them alone for extended periods of time, when they disappear from our lives completely, the grief and trauma we experience can sometimes seem unbearable. Keep in mind these important tips when losing a beloved pet from theft:

Don’t Give Up!

While the first forty-eight hours during the disappearance of a human are often called the critical time for their safe return, there have been many documented cases when animals have been returned with their owners weeks, months or even years after they were lost or abducted. In one peculiar and bizarre case from the United States, a family found their beloved pet for sale on Craigslist (or UK websites such as Gumtree) after it was stolen and they bought their dog back from the thief.

On a personal level, I once had a dog that disappeared and after a few weeks went by, I gave up hope that she would be returned. Exactly three months, three weeks and three days later, I got a phone call from the party who found her. Apparently, the person who had taken her in (she had lost her collar and ID tags) assumed she was a stray. It was only when a friend of hers had seen one of my faded flyers that she shared this information with her buddy and the rest is history - I got my dog back!

Stolen Pets Can't be Replaced!

In some cases, many people who have lost a pet, whether it was from death, desertion or dognapping, they’re are often advised by well-meaning friends or family to replace their beloved animal almost immediately! Perhaps this seems like a good option in filling this painful void, but it isn’t necessarily a good avenue to pursue when it comes to compensating for this type of loss.

For one thing, your pet may turn up and now you have two animals to contend with and they may not necessarily get along with each other. Before you throw in the towel when it comes to their safe return, you may want to wait a reasonable amount of time before considering a replacement. Even if you find a cute dog that needs a home, it happens to be of the same breed of your missing canine, you might resent them for not having the same personality and attributes of your former best friend.

Don’t Let A Teachable Moment Pass You By

Especially when they’re children involved, don’t let this traumatic experience pass you by without some important lessons that can be learned from this type of life-changing event. This can be a time when children can learn more about “stranger danger,” the importance of ensuring they are protected from abduction and their possessions are also safe.

You can explain to them that even though we’re good people ourselves, others may not have the best intentions and they should remain cautious at all times. We all know this sad and sick scenario, a seemingly nice person uses a cute puppy or kitten to lure children into a dangerous situation.

Protect your children from possible perils by sharing how dangerous the outside world can be when it comes to unsavoury characters. You have the potential of possibly preventing another tragedy from occurring when it comes to your two-legged children.

Read more pet related blogs from Amber Kingsley

Friday, 11 March 2016

Pet Theft Awareness Week - 14th to 21st March.

Pet Theft Awareness Week - 14th to 21st March.

Now in its fourth year Pet Theft Awareness Week this year will be promoting the use of technology in helping to prevent pet theft and to find stolen pets.

In particular, dog theft is increasing 14% year on year, and the authorities continue to defy public opinion to introduce stiffer penalties, so prevention awareness is becoming more and more important.

Pet Theft Awareness is a member of SAMPA, the Stolen and Missing Pet Alliance, and in June 2014 the Alliance submitted a recommendation to the Sentencing Council that a pet be categorised as ‘theft of a pet’ and that there be a difference between an inanimate object and a valued living possession.

SAMPA also requested that working within the existing framework, a custodial sentence of a minimum of six weeks could be introduced.
The new Sentencing Council guidelines were introduced on 1stFebruary this year and SAMPA is very disappointed that its recommendations were not accepted and the status quo remains.

Nik Oakley, spokesperson for SAMPA said, “In spite of much lobbying, and intervention by Neil Parish MP, past Chairm of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, we were unable to persuade the Justices to accept our point of view. We will continue our fight and were delighted that the matter was brought to the House of Commons last week by Gareth Johnson MP”

Using social media and a series of graphics, Pet Theft Awareness will be highlighting the need for pet owners to be vigilant and install some inexpensive but efficient equipment to help keep an eye on their animals.
“While we wait for tougher penalties,”says Richard Jordan of VioVet and co founder of Pet Theft Awareness, “we are urging pet owners to use all the technology that is available to them as the onus remains firmly with them to protect their pets”. 

For more information please contact:
Arnot Wilson, Co- founder PTA.  e-mail:
Nik Oakley, Corporate Communications Advisor, DogLost.   e-mail:
Debbie Matthews, Vets Get Scanning.   e-mail:

Website and print media:
For dog and horse theft information posters: