Small dogs may be stolen and sold for profit - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Small dogs may be stolen and sold for profit

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Did you just let your dog outside?  Make sure you keep your eyes and ears open!  South Bend Animal Care and Control says the number of small dogs reported missing has spiked.

Some people claim they let their animals out in their backyards, then they look again and they're gone.  Animal Control said they can't be certain the pets are being stolen but they hypothesize small dogs could be swiped and then resold for profit.

Matt Harmon, South Bend Animal Care and Control Shelter Manager, said, "We've noticed lately that the trend has swayed quite a bit towards the smaller dogs, dogs under 15 pounds."

Harmon said since September, 51% of all dogs reported missing have been the tiny dogs.  "It's alarming...it's shocking," said Harmon.

Harmon said a theory behind this trend that gets a lot of play on social media is the idea that the dogs are being stolen and used as bait dogs for fighting rings.  Harmon said they've seen that happen before but he doesn't think that's the case this time because animal control officers aren't finding the evidence.  "If they were being used as bait dogs for fighting we would see the deceased in ditches, being discarded inappropriately," said Harmon.

So why are so many little dogs suddenly lost?  Harmon can't say for sure but he has a theory.  "Someone might be trying to make a quick buck out there, selling the dog from the backyard or using it as a dog to breed more."

Katie Koski is the owner of a miniature pinscher and as the owner of a small dog she isn't surprised people may be stealing dogs to make a profit.  "Buying him from a pet store he was pretty expensive...I think people think you can make more money re-selling them especially because they're in such a high market now and the holidays are coming up a lot of kids want pets for Christmas," said Koski.

And while she's not shocked by the trend it certainly makes her even more concerned about keeping a close eye on Rufus.  "It's awful that somebody would do that to especially a pet.  I mean, they're family."

So what can you do to protect your pet?  Harmon said always keep your dog on a leash. If you're just letting them in the backyard you don't always have to go outside with them but keep your ears and eyes open just like you would with your kids.  If you suddenly hear something weird or it gets really quiet check it out. 

If your pet is suddenly missing, Harmon has some advice for that too.  He said the first thing to do is obviously start looking for the dog then call whatever animal control organization is in  your area.  Harmon recommends also going to the local shelter to look at the animals because nobody knows your dog better than you.  He said you should put up posters and hit social media hard.  You should also look online and in the paper to see if there's a dog that matches the description of your dog that someone is trying to sell.

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