In the last two and a half years, Lost Dogs Illinois and Lost Dogs of Wisconsin have reunited almost 10,000 dogs with their owners. The vast majority of these dogs are either simply lost; or they have been picked up by a Good Samaritan.
A picked up dog is one that was lost or perceived to be lost and a Good Samaritan took the dog to keep it out of harm’s way. The Good Samaritan means well but human behavior comes in to play and several false assumptions may be made. They often assume the dog has been “dumped” because it appears matted, dirty or hungry (all of which can be attributed to being lost, even for a very short time). The Good Samaritan may then take one of these courses of action:
1. They become emotionally attached to the dog and keep or rehome the dog themselves.
2. They take the dog to a shelter or vet clinic that is not the official stray holding facility for the area – either because they don’t know which is the correct facility or they have heard rumors that it is not a good facility and they want to take the dog somewhere “better”.
3. They play the “wait and see game” to see if flyers and signs are posted; because this convinces them that the owner truly wants their dog back.
Dog theft is something entirely different because the motivation is different. Stealing involves a person who commits a crime of intent by illegally entering your house, yard or vehicle and taking your dog. “Stolen” dogs make headlines which makes it appear that it happens more often than it does. But when the dog is recovered, and it wasn’t stolen; the outcome doesn’t get the same media attention. So the public only remembers that the dog was “stolen” when it may have simply been lost or picked up. The media loves to over-sensationalize the story of a stolen dog or “dog flipping”.
At LDI/LDOW we focus on “probability” vs. “possibility”. We never say never, but when we look at the results of our 9000 plus successful reunions, we see some pretty clear patterns. In our experience very few dogs are actually stolen for profit or bad intentions. And of those that are stolen, many of those have been taken by somebody that is known to the family:
1. A disgruntled spouse or family member
2. A disgruntled employee, contractor or debtor
3. An unhappy neighbor or animal welfare advocate who disagrees with how the dog is cared for.
The American Kennel Club press release that stated that “dog theft was on the rise” was based on figures that stated they had an increase in “stolen” dog reports from 432 pet thefts in 2011, compared to 255 thefts in 2010. This is an increase of 177 dogs but of course they expressed that as a percentage and the headlines screamed: “Dognapping Cases Are Up By Almost 70 Percent!” Now compare those figures to how many dogs are owned in the USA – almost 80 million dogs.
The current stories circulating about “dog flipping” are based on a few incidences and are not indicative of a new pattern or “trend”.
Instead of over-sensationalizing dog theft and “dog flipping”; at LDI/LDOW we focus our efforts on educating owners how to successfully find their dogs no matter what the circumstances; and teaching Good Samaritans how to correctly reunite found dogs with their owners.
Thank you for helping us in our mission. Together we can help more lost dogs get home!
If you truly believe your dog has been stolen please read this article for further information.