In February 2021, Lady Gaga’s dog walker, Ryan Fisher, was reportedly arrested in a dog robbery in Hollywood. It was something out of a movie. The perpetrators were after those of the singer French Bulldog “Miss Asia, Gustav and Koji,” shooting Fischer in the chest as he tried to protect them. Gustav and Koji were stolen in the horrific attack, while Miss Asia escaped and was later apprehended by the police.
In response, Lady Gaga offered a generous reward for the safe return of her beloved pups. “My heart aches and I pray that my family can be whole again with an act of kindness. I will pay $500,000 for their safe return,” she wrote Instagram. The dogs were later returned by a woman who claimed to have found them by accident, but was later charged as an accessory to the crime.
Although the theft of Lady Gaga’s dogs made front page news, this type of crime happens more often than one might think. According to Dog newspaper2 million dogs fall victim to dog theft each year in the US, and only about 10 percent are returned.
French bulldogs are among the most popular victims because they cost between $1,500 and $3,000. In addition to French bulldogs, smaller toy dogs, including Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians and Chihuahuas, are often stolen. “They’re easy to grab and cost a lot of money,” he says Kathleen Summers from the Humane Society of the United States. Cheaper breeds can also fall victim. Although less common, some dogs are stolen to be used as bait dogs in dog fighting rings.
In some cases, the dogs are even held for ransom. Jessica Price of San Diego broke down in tears local news interview when her chihuahua mix, Chapulin, was stolen and held for ransom. Price agreed to pay the thief $2,000 for his safe return, but instead tragically found him dead in a small cage next to a dumpster.
What to do to avoid pet theft
While it would be more difficult to avoid a theft at gunpoint, as in Fischer’s case, there is much you can do to prevent dog abductions.
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Keep an eye on your puppy.
Don’t leave them in your yard unattended or in a car, even if it’s locked. “If you leave your dog alone in the yard when you can’t watch him, consider getting a surveillance camera,” says Summers. She also notes that putting up signs to let people know you’re watching can help deter criminals.
Make sure your dog or pet is spayed or neutered.
Many pets are stolen and sold to puppy millswhere they can be used for breeding.
Make sure your dog is micro chip.
That way, if your pet is sold to someone who didn’t realize it was stolen, you can prove it’s your dog. “Scanning that microchip will prove whose pet it is,” says Summers.
Keep updated photos of your dog or pet.
This can also help prove that the dog is your pet and can alert authorities to the type of dog they are looking for. Posting recent photos on social media can help potential buyers realize they have purchased a stolen pet.
What to do if your dog is stolen
If your puppy is stolen, Summers says you can take the following steps to increase your chances of being one of the lucky 10 percent who will get their pet back. Start by contacting local law enforcement and your local humane society; then check the classifieds or CraigsList to see if a similar dog is for sale, and post about your missing pet on social media.
Be weary if someone contacts you and says they are holding your dog for ransom. “Scammers may search for missing pet ads and pretend they have your pet when they don’t,” says Summers.
The bottom line is to let your community know in hopes that if someone unknowingly buys your dog, they will return it because they didn’t realize it was stolen.