Why Do People Steal Dogs?

Pet theft is a very serious problem, not only in the US, but worldwide. An estimated 2 million pets worldwide are taken every year, and according to the American Kennel Club, that number is only going up. There are many reasons why people steal dogs, and almost all of them center around one thing — money. Let's take a deep dive into why people steal dogs and give you some tips to help prevent this devastating scenario from happening to you.


Fighting rings

A top reason people steal dogs is to use them as bait dogs to train other dogs to fight. Dognappers may use aggressive dogs to fight other dogs, especially if they are considered a fighting breed. Pitbulls are a top breed stolen for these activities since people often (incorrectly) perceive them as more aggressive than other breeds.


Dog flipping for profit

Dog thieves often take purebreds and designer breeds to resell for profit. Purebred dogs can go for thousands of dollars on unregulated resale sites. Dog flippers have even been known to take dogs from shelters to resell.


For reward money

Sometimes people steal dogs in hopes that the pet parent will post a reward for the dog. Once the pet parent puts up a reward, the dognappers will often return the dog posing as a concerned citizen to claim the money.


To sell for animal testing

Some dognappers may have "B dealer" licenses, which means they can sell animals to animal testing facilities. Unfortunately, the paperwork required to sell these dogs is very easy to forge. A few forged documents can make a beloved stolen pet appear to be an adopted shelter dog on paper.


For spite or personal reasons

It's not uncommon for people to steal pets from their estranged spouses because they believe they have ownership of the dog. There are also cases where neighbors have taken dogs from their neighbor's yard and dropped them off because they found them to be bothersome.


For breeding purposes

Sometimes, dog thieves steal dogs to use them for breeding purposes which can be more lucrative than just selling the stolen dog. Dogs can produce as many as 15 pups per litter, which means breeding can make a massive profit for dognappers.


How to prevent your dog from being stolen
  • Microchip your pet. Microchips can help you be reunited with your dog if police find them during an investigation. Unlike collars, microchips cannot be taken off and provide irrefutable proof that the dog is yours. 

  • Keep your pets indoors. Dogs who live exclusively outside are at a much higher risk of being dognapped.

  • Don't let your pets outside when you're not able to supervise them. Never let your dog outside out of your sight, even if you have a fence. Dognappers are notorious for overcoming more challenging obstacles than a fence to get to dogs.

  • Never leave your dog unattended in a vehicle. Dognappers may also break into vehicles to steal dogs. Bring your pet in with you or leave them at home.

Want more tips? Check out our guide on how to prevent your dog from being stolen.

Dognapping is a heart-wrenching act for pet parents and their four-legged companions, although the punishment for this crime isn't very harsh. Few dognappers are caught or prosecuted for this offense, and pets are rarely ever returned. All you can do is take action to prevent your dog from being stolen.

Microchipping and supervising your dog when outside your house are great first-line defenses to prevent your pet from being taken. Take action if you see suspicious activity around your neighborhood, and call the police immediately if you witness a dognapping crime. Read this article for more information about what to do if you witness a dognapping crime.

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