Pet owners, beware.
At least three Chicago neighborhoods are on alert after a rash of designer dog thefts.
Nicole and Henry Brownell of Roscoe Village say they've spent the better part of the last month heartbroken after their 9-year-old yorkie, Sadie, was snatched from outside their home as their children played outside.
"It's been devastating for us," said Nicole Brownell.
Just a few blocks away and a few days later, a cockapoo was stolen during a home robbery on the 1800 block of West Patterson.
And in Bucktown, a little pug named Dude was nabbed during a home robbery there.
A spokesperson with the website FindToto.com says Chicago isn't alone in the spike in thefts. All across the country, designer dogs are being taken and resold for profit. Some are simply sold to new homes while others are offered up for medical research. Still others are used as bait for dog fighting.
Dog owners should take special care to prevent their canine companions from being vulnerable to theft:
- Never leave your dog unattended in a yard as it may become a potential target of dognappers.
- Keep gates and doors to your home locked.
- Never leave your dog unattended in the car, even if it is locked.
- Never leave your dog tied up outside a store or restaurant.
- Protect your dog by making sure he is wearing ID tags and has a tattoo or microchip. A microchip is a permanent form of ID that is slightly larger than a grain of rice and is placed just under the skin by a veterinarian. It is encoded with an unalterable code that can be read with a scanner. This is one of the best ways to identify your pet and make it more likely to be recovered. For more information on microchips, go to www.akccar.org (the AKC Companion Animal Recovery program) and www.HomeAgain.com.
- When you take your dog for a walk, be sure to keep it on leash so it can't wander off.
- Be vigilant and aware of people watching you or your dog; stay in well-lit areas and keep a cell phone handy at all times.
- If someone approaches you to ask about your dog, don't divulge details, especially not the purchase price of your dog or where you live.
- If purchasing a dog via an advertisement, be careful you are not buying stolen goods. Ask for some proof of ownership, e.g., American Kennel Club registration papers, veterinary records or microchip registration.
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