Roving thieves scoop up pups

Tuesday, April 29th 2008, 4:50 pm
By: News 9

By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

Every year a number of dogs are stolen from homes throughout the metro, and the market for man's best friend continues to grow, some animal welfare workers said.

For 30 years, Doctor Ron Boyer worked as a veterinarian and was known as a gentle giant with a caring and delicate manner toward his four-legged patients.

The same doctor that cares for the canines recently said he became a victim of pet theft.

Dogs Targeted by Thieves in Metro
  • Pit Bulls/Pit Bull Mixes
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Beagles
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Chihuahuas
  • Pomeranians
  • Malteses
  • Shih Tzus
  • Mixed Breeds/Mutts
  • Maci and Mini, Boyer's two Chihuahuas, were travel companions to Boyer and his wife. The two dogs were snatched out of his truck while the couple was in a restaurant.

    Stealing dogs has become a growing trend in Oklahoma, with daily online postings alerting the public of the latest stolen pet, said Tara Beres of Safe Haven Center. "This is a big time of year for dog theft, particularly in the spring and summer."

    Beres runs a shelter that rescues abused and abandoned dogs. Among the several breeds nursed back to health in this facility are pit bulls and pit bull mixes, which is the number one stolen dog in Oklahoma City.

    Labrador retrievers and beagles ranked the second and third breeds most stolen, respectively.

    "Labradors and beagles are the top two dogs used in research facilities because of their friendly temperaments," Beres said. "They can sustain at a high level without biting their handlers."

    The toy breeds have also been proven to be quite popular in the metro, Beres said.

    Puppy mills are popping up all over the city and state, Beres said. The mills are breeding facilities, often under filthy conditions.

    Authorities who work on cases involving dog theft said there's a market for mixed breeds as well, which could include breeds not listed above.

    Lassie Come Home with High Tech?

    "A research lab can use any type of dog and will use any type of dog," Beres said.

    Oklahoma City Police said they do have many reports on dog thefts cases, about 12 cases per year. They believe many pet thefts go unreported.

    "It's certainly a crime we invest in, particularly if we have good suspect information," said Sgt. Gary Knight of the Oklahoma City Police Department.

    Knight said it's up to owners to secure the safety of their pets.

    "Like any other crime of opportunity, if your pet is important to you, just like any other piece of property, it can be stolen. So you will want to take measures to keep that pet safe," Knight said.

    One measure that's receiving high recommendations from some veterinarians is micro-chipping. Vets insert a chip the size of a rice grain under the skin of the dog that is believed to be entirely painless.

    The chip contains information on the rightful owners of the pet and by law every vet and shelter must scan all dogs that come into their possession before putting the dog up for sale or adoption.

    Dr. Boyer said he believes micro-chipping could help with the growing pet theft problem.

    "This is something that can help get dogs home where they're supposed to be, if they've been stolen," Boyer said.