A Chicago mother said Thursday she believes her beloved dog, Louie, was stolen the night earlier in a case of pet-flipping.
Evelyn Alvarado said her 3-month-old Maltese-Poodle mix was outside for just a few minutes Wednesday evening when he vanished from the backyard of her home on West Wrightwood and North Kostner avenues.
She spent Thursday visiting Animal Care and Control and posting fliers in search of the dog. But her search also took her online, where an increasing number of pet owners are finding their animals for sale, according to the American Kennel Club.
The AKC says such thefts increased 30 percent between January and May compared to the same time in 2012.
Registered microchips can help both pet owners and buyers, said Trevor Page, the CEO of WhiskerDocs, a 24/7 ask-a-vet helpline.
"Most likely, if it's a stolen dog, they'll be microchipped. So you can have a vet which, of course, always comes with buying a dog or adopting a dog, and have the vet scan the microchip right away," he said. "If it comes up, do not call the person you bought it from. Call the police first."
Pets that have been spayed or neutered are less attractive to dog snatchers, and to avoid buying a dog that's stolen, potential pet-owners should consider animal shelters, rescue groups and breeders.