ORLANDO, Florida. – If you have a dog, beware! Dog thefts are up 33% since last year, and it’s even worse for high-priced breeds.
The search continues for Cesar Chavir’s year-and-a-half-old dog named Oscar. Chavir said someone broke into his Lake Nona home and took his purebred Australian Shepherd.
“The fact that they entered my house made the situation even more upsetting. And then they took my dog,” Chavir said.
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Australian Shepherd dogs have become more popular. “They can be high-priced dogs. They can cost over $5,000,” said Brandi Hunter Munden of the American Kennel Club.
“Unfortunately pet theft is extremely common. Pet theft with violence and property damage is not as common, but we are seeing a prevalence of it.”
Munden said demand is high, but supply is low for the breed.
“A lot of people stay on a waiting list for a long time and that’s an opportunity for thieves.”
SMALL DOGS ARE TARGETS TOO
Judy Sarullo, who runs Pet Rescue by Judy, said it’s not just high-priced dogs — even small dogs are being targeted.
“People seem to pick on little dogs,” Sarullo said. “If they’re not fixed, they’re going to use them for breeding and they’re going to put them in research labs and make money. They’ll ship them out of state.”
Munden said there have been a few high-profile cases of dog theft.
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“You’ve had Lady Gaga’s bulldog stolen. People have been dragged behind cars trying to save their dog,” Munden said.
In a surveillance photo, Oscar doesn’t look very scared. That’s why Brandi recommends teaching the dog not to be friendly with everyone.
“A very friendly dog can go with a stranger if the opportunity arises,” she said.
WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR DOG
- Make sure you have a working security system.
- Have the dog microchipped and tagged.
- Spay or neuter your pet so it is less attractive to thieves.
“We tell them, ‘don’t leave your dogs in the backyard. Don’t use your dog door,'” Sarullo said.
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Oscar has a microchip, according to his owner Cesar, but has not been neutered. He hopes someone will find his best friend soon. Anyone with information should call the Orlando Police Department or Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.
TOP STOLEN DOG BREEDS
The American Kennel Club has stated that these are the best breeds that are stolen:
- french bulldog
- German shepherd
- Labrador Retrievers
- siberian husky
- Yorkshire terrier
- Shih Tzu
Frenchies, Yorkies and Shih Tzus are the most stolen because they are small, cute, easy to transport and expensive to buy. German Shepherds and Labradors are so popular because many are AKC registered.