If you have a dog, you know they need to go out several times a day. That’s just a fact. So what’s a dog parent to do if there’s a risk of having your dog stolen while just taking them out to pee at night?
It sounds dramatic, but that is a genuine concern in the Bay Area of Northern California, where dognapping incidents are on the rise. As more dogs get forcibly taken from their owners, locals fear for their families’ safety.
The Unsettling Numbers
Dognapping has become a common occurrence in San Francisco and the East Bay. The incidents in Oakland, for example, rose from 19 reported in 2019 to 31 reported in 2021.
The stolen dogs range in breed, from the commonly targeted French Bulldog to a German Shepherd mix. The latter, a dog, named Summer, is a resident’s certified service dog (Summer was fortunately found by police.)
In many cases, social media posts, missing posters, and rewards of thousands of dollars have led to the dogs’ safe return. Police are doing what they can as well.
Some of these dogs have been recovered after days, weeks, or even months. But there’s always the possibility a stolen dog will never come back home.
French Bulldogs Are Often Targeted
According to Lt. Ray Kelly, public information officer with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, Frenchies are commonly stolen as they have “a lot of market value because they are cute and small and they are difficult to purchase.”
“It is a supply-and-demand issue for French bulldogs. They are being targeted for their market value in the criminal underworld,” Kelly added.
Tito, a Frenchie, was stolen from his family at gunpoint while on a walk on January 15th. Fortunately, Alameda County Sheriffs were able to track him down and return him to his family.
We are pleased to report that “Tito” the French Bulldog has been recovered by ACSO Detectives. Tito was stolen at gunpoint from his family on a walk on 1/15 in Castro Valley, CA. Detectives have worked relentlessly to locate him. He has been reunited with his family. pic.twitter.com/2Mhyro3m0u
— Alameda County Sheriff (@ACSOSheriffs) January 26, 2022
In a tweet announcing the dog’s safe return, Sheriff Ahern of the department said:
“As a dog owner, this case disturbed me, my agency and the community. I directed our investigators to pursue all leads. I’m glad to see Tito is now reunited with his family.”
Another [anonymous] woman from Oakland had her French Bulldog taken from her at gunpoint on January 13th while walking through the Adams Point neighborhood.
“It was just so scary. But I think people should have whatever kind of dog they want to have without having to worry about this.”
Locals Express Concern
An Oakland area resident identified only as Brann L. in a San Francisco Chronicle article, said he’s afraid to walk his dog at night these days.
“With all of the dog thefts and just normal thefts happening nearby, it’s something I think about every time the sun sets. Are we going to have to mix up our route? Do I need to equip myself to take my dog out to pee for 10 minutes?”
Brann reached out to his neighbors and fellow dog parents on Nextdoor about walking in groups. Several others expressed interest in joining Brann and his dog on walks for safety in numbers.
“I think that being together with other people is probably the best deterrent to crime. There’s always safety in numbers. It’s a good excuse to stay together and try to work together against what’s happening.”
Incredibly, the woman whose Frenchie was stolen in Adams Point did get her dog back when a local teenager spotted him. Still, after all, she and her dog went through, she wants to see harsher punishments for dog thieves.
“It’s not a Fendi purse, it’s not a wallet, it’s not a Rolex. It’s like losing a loved one … I don’t want it to happen to anyone else, ever.”
Walking with other people and their dogs may be a deterrent to thieves. Parents should also make sure their dogs are microchipped.