By Brittany Penland
Dog owners may need to be mindful about man’s best friend, as the American Kennel Club shows the number of dog larcenies in the nation has increased.
The AKC has seen a nationwide increase in dog theft of 24 percent in the first six months of 2011 over the same period a year ago. That follows a similar increase from 2009 to 2010.
While AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson said the nation is seeing an increase in dog larcenies, North Carolina has only had five stolen dogs reported so far this year.
Gastonia resident Charles Talbert, 29, filed a police report on June 17 after he came home from his mother’s house to find his 3-month-old pit bull, Box, stolen.
“They broke in the front window and went into the basement where the dog was,” Talbert said. “He was a cute puppy and just needed to be potty trained.”
The intruder also allegedly stole Talbert’s flat-screen television, camera and PlayStation 3, among other items.
“There have been a lot of home invasions where people take dogs and the dog’s things like bowls or leashes,” Peterson said.
Matt Phillips, crime analyst at the Gastonia Police Department, hasn’t seen an increase in stolen dogs this year.
Since January 2010, the Gastonia Police Department has reported four burglaries and 18 larcenies of dogs, he said.
Almost half of the breeds reported stolen were pit bulls.
By July 13, the national AKC database showed 191 stolen dogs versus 145 over the same period in 2010, said Peterson.
The AKC tracks larcenies using their National Pet Theft Database that compiles police and media reports.
“People steal pets for a variety of reasons. Some are criminal, or for ransom to try and get money,” Peterson said. “Some think by stealing purebreds they can sell them for money, or they want to re-give pets as gifts.
The spokeswoman said she often sees an uptick in dog larcenies during Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
“With the economy the way it is, people may be a little desperate and want to give that cute little puppy as a gift,” Peterson said.
In order to keep pets safe, Peterson said the top priority for pet owners is to never let their dogs out of sight. She also advises owners to not leave dogs alone in a car or backyard.
“It’s common for vans to drive up and scoop dogs up off the street to be resold in a variety of venues,” Peterson said.
She also tells dog owners to be wary of people asking lots of questions about their dogs. Red flag questions include asking how much the dog cost and if it is purebred.
Josh Shaffer of (Raleigh) News & Observer contributed.