Sadly, few are ever found by their families, according to this HSUS report.
Almost nothing is sadder for a dog owner than to know their beloved four-legged family member has been taken from them by a cruel thief. Through the years we’ve heard from sad callers whose dogs have been stolen.
One family lived on a farm. Their collie had run toward a fence by the rural road just a short distance from the front of their home. Suddenly a car pulled up. A man jumped out and called their dog toward the fence as he held some food parcel in his outstretched hand.
The friendly collie quickly jumped through a space in the fence. The man grabbed him and sped off. The husband ran to his truck. He attempted without success to find the thief but sadly, his family’s much-loved dog was never found.
In another case the owner of a sweet boxer let him stay outside in her fenced front yard on nice days while she was at work.
To protect her beloved dog she had chained the front gate with a lock on it that required a key to unlock.
But when she returned from work she discovered the chain had been cut and her dog had been stolen. She called police and the animal control office but she never found her dog.
Another sad report was about an adored little Shih tzu whose owner let her her outside each morning. She didn’t have a fenced yard but she said her little companion "always just runs around the front of the house for a few minutes." But this time the dog did not return.
The sad lady searched her neighborhood for weeks, posted flyers, ran newspaper and radio ads, checked daily at the Cleveland Animal Shelter but with no success. "She was stolen. I know that is what had to happen," said the lady through tears.
Although letting dogs run at large is unlawful in both the city and county, too many canines are unconfined which endangers them in countless ways.
What happens to stolen dogs? The criminals who steal them may use them as bait in their illegal dog fighting rings. They may sell them to dealers who sell them to puppy mills where they are confined in cages and used as breeder dogs to produce countless litters of puppies until they die early deaths from neglect and disease in small, outdoor cages where they are kept for a lifetime. They may be sold to anyone who walks by a flea market stand.
These same criminals may also search advertisements to find dogs or cats advertised as "Free to a good home." No unwanted pet should ever be advertised as "free" which is an invitation for harm to come to innocent animals by bad people wanting to pad their pocketbooks.
To protect dogs from thieves experts urge: never leaving pets
unattended for long periods even in a fenced yard; keeping them indoors when you are at work or going to be away from home for any reason; verifying identity from anyone claiming to be an animal control officer or rescuer who shows an interest in the pet. At all times keep a collar on your dog with an identification tag and have him/her microchipped by your veterinarian.
Never leave a dog in a car alone where they can get fatally overheated and are also at high risk of being stolen if the windows are rolled down.
If a pet does turn up missing, post flyers, tell neighbors, especially neighborhood children, run classified free Banner ads under "Lost & Found," and call radio stations and check daily at the Cleveland Animal Shelter, 360 Hill St.
Paws up this week to: Cathy and Carl Silkett; Anna Lee Watson; Terry and Olive Templin; Mike and Nina Steinman; Leeanna Burrall; and all who rescued a pet with the assurance of providing a long, wonderful life in a forever home.
Call me with your pet and wildlife stories, 728-5414, or send them to: ESP, P.O. Box 4864, Cleveland, TN 37320.