Rash of Pet Thefts Underscore Dangerous Congressional Proposal

2019-12-05 | AKC Government Relations Department

“Stolen Shih Tzu Rocky Still Missing.” “French Bulldog Stolen From Dallas Pet Store.” “Nearly 20 puppies dognapped from local breeder.” Search “pet theft” on the internet and you will get thousands of hits on stories just like these.

In our daily lives, we take precautions to safeguard our most valuable possessions and protect them from being stolen. We lock our car doors, equip our homes with alarms, and create passwords to shield our personal information, yet few pet owners realize that protecting our dogs from potential theft is just as important.

Each year, around 2 million dogs are stolen from their unsuspecting owners, and only 10% are ever recovered.[1] Whether a dog is stolen in a matter of seconds as a quick way to make a buck or, several dogs are stolen in an elaborate scheme, it is important to be aware of the risks and safeguard your pet.

According to Tom Sharp, President and CEO of American Kennel Club (AKC) Reunite, the nation’s largest non-profit pet microchip and recovery service, thefts often involve high-value dogs, such as Bulldogs and French Bulldogs, and smaller breeds such as Chihuahuas and Yorkshire Terriers. “These types of dogs are easy to grab and run with,” he says.

A 2018 AKC report on pet theft finds that Yorkshire Terriers are the most commonly stolen breed, followed by French Bull Dogs, and the Shih Tzus.[2]

Pending Congressional Legislation Could Make the Situation Worse

Just days ago, 18 French Bull Dog puppies were stolen from a breeder in Indiana. According to the local police reports, the dogs were valued at $2,000 to $9,000. The breeder is registered with the USDA, which makes breeder inspection reports available to the public.[3] Currently, legislation in Congress, including language in the House version of the 2020 Agricultural Appropriations bill, would actually expand private information about pet breeders available in an online USDA searchable database. Many experts worry that if this proposal becomes law, pet thefts could skyrocket. “This proposal is an incredibly bad idea. It would require USDA to obtain and publish private information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and individual animal “inventories” online, essentially providing a ready-made shopping list for pet thieves, animal terrorists or other unscrupulous people", said Sheila Goffe, AKC Vice President, Government Relations.

The AKC recognizes the value of posting USDA licensee inspection reports in a  database as a general tool for retailers and consumers to establish the animal care record of various pet breeder licensees.  However existing, appropriate redactions of private information should continue to protect the safety of licensees and their dogs from those who may wish to harm them. Pet purchasers can obtain detailed USDA inspection reports directly from pet breeders without putting them in jeopardy. Learn more about this threat here.   

How to protect yourself and your dogs

The danger to your dog is real, but there are ways to stay a step ahead of would-be thieves. First and foremost, make sure your dog is microchipped and that the contact information on file is up to date. This process has led to the recovery of many stolen dogs.

Another important safety tip is to stay tight-lipped about where you live, places you frequent with your pup, or even how much you paid for him. Thieves look for high-value dogs.

If your dog is stolen, immediately report the theft to police, call your microchip company and any lost-dog or stolen-dog databases that you know of in your area, including local shelters. You should also distribute fliers and get the word out on social media.

Knowing the different scenarios in which thieves can prey upon your dog will allow you to safeguard your best friend from potential danger.


[1] “Prevent Pet Thefts,” Petfinder, https://www.petfinder.com/dogs/lost-and-found-dogs/prevent-pet-theft/
[2] “Yorkshire Terrier Tops AKC List Of Most Stolen Dogs,” Sacramento Bee,” https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2019/04/30/akc-most-stolen-dogs-list/
[3] “APIS List of Certificate Holders, Page 177,USDA,  https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/downloads/List-of-Active-Licensees-and-Registrants.pdf

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