Dognapped! Surveillance video highlights a growing problem

Maybe you saw the shocking video- or if you didn”t, you should.

A woman enters a tattoo shop in Vancouver, British Columbia, plays with and then picks up a staff member”s dog - and after casually sauntering toward the door while the employee was occupied, bolts outside and into an awaiting car.

It was the second known case of dognapping in that city within a week. In the first case, a woman paid $500 for the safe return of her Chihuahua, held for ransom after being stolen from outside another business.

In the latest case, captured on surveillance video, a 10-month-old French bulldog named Chloe was dognapped around the evening of April 17.

Police and Chloe”s pet parentsare searching for the pup and perps. The getaway car had no license plate.

How Dognapping Occurs

Although there are no firm statistics, the American Kennel Club has reported a steady increase in known cases in recent years - typically averaging between 50 and 70 percent over the previous year.

In the most brazen cases, dogs are stolen and held for ransom. The Chiuahua owner, for instance, received a phonecall from a man saying he saw another trying to sell the dog - and that he paid $300 for the pet. “He comes to meet me and he”s got her inside of his jacket,”said pet owner Heather McBride. “He wouldn”t give me her until he had money, so I gave him $500.”

Other dogs are stolen for gifts. In the past, there”s been an uptick in dognapping cases around Valentine”s Day and Mother”s Day, reports AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson.

And some pilfered pooches are “flipped”- sold on Craigslist or street corners for a quick payoff.

But most often, say authorities, dognappers play a waiting game - hunkering down to determine if any reward is offered and then they claim it.

There can be big money: In several past cases that garnered media attention, pet parents have offered rewards as high as $10,000 for the safe return of their dogs - with “no questions asked. “And you ougta know: Alanis Morissette recently had her pet returned after the singer sued her housekeeper for allegedly stealing it.

How to bite back

In addition to the obvious -- keeping pets on a leash and never leaving them unattended in backyards or cars - here”s how to better prevent dognapping:

* Get under-skin security. Among the many reasons to microchip your pet: Stolen dogs with microchips are considered by the legal system as stolen property, making a stronger case for criminal charges.

* Notify authorities. Even if you suspect a missing pet is lost, rather than stolen, file a report with your local animal control officer. This way, should someone subsequently request a reward for a “found”pet, a previously filed report puts you on stronger ground if you decide to take legal action.

* When posting “lost”ads and fliers, include a recent photo and “last seen”location. But experts suggest you do NOT offer a reward; that may only incentivize the criminals.

* Be mindful of bragging. If strangers approach to admire your dog during walks, don”t answer questions about how much the dog cost or give details about where you live.

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