ORLANDO, Fla. - If you own a dog, beware! Dog thefts are on the rise by 33% since last year, and it's even worse for high-priced breeds.
The search continues for Cesar Chavir's 1 ½ year-old dog named Oscar. Chavir said someone broke into his Lake Nona home and took his pure-bred Australian Sheperd.
"The fact that they went into my house that made it more upsetting. And then they took my dog," Chavir said.
Australian Sheperd dogs have become more popular. "They can be high-priced dogs. They can go upwards of $5,000," Brandi Hunter Munden of the American Kennel Club said.
"Unfortunately pet theft is extremely common. Pet theft with violence and property damage is not as common, however we are seeing a prevalence of it."
Munden said the demand is high, but supply is low for the breed.
"A lot of people stay on a waitlist for long and that’s an opportunity for thieves."
SMALL DOGS ARE TARGETS, TOO
Judy Sarullo, who runs Pet Rescue by Judy, said it's not just high-priced dogs – even small dogs are being targeted.
"People seem to go after the little dogs," Sarullo said. "If they’re not fixed, they’re going to use them for breeding and they’re going to put them in research labs and make money. They’ll ship them out of state."
Munden said there’s been a few high-profile dog theft cases.
"You had Lady Gaga’s bulldog stolen. You’ve had people dragged behind cars trying to save their dog," Munden said.
In a surveillance photo Oscar doesn’t look very scared. That’s why Brandi recommends teaching the dog not to be friendly with everyone.
"A very friendly dog may go with a stranger if the opportunity presents itself," she said.
WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR DOG
- Make sure you have a working security system.
- Have the dog microchipped and tagged.
- Get your pet spayed or neutered, so it's less attractive to thieves.
"We tell them, ‘do not leave your dogs in the backyard. Do not use your doggie door,’" Sarullo said.
Oscar has a microchip, according to his owner Cesar, but hasn't been neutered. He hopes someone finds his best friend soon. Anyone with information should call the Orlando Police Department or Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.
TOP DOG BREEDS STOLEN
The American Kennel Club said these are the top breed that are stolen:
- French Bulldog
- German Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- Siberian Husky
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Shih Tzu
Frenchies, Yorkies and Shih Tzu are stolen the most because they are small, cute, easy to carry and expensive to buy. German Shepherd and Labradors are so highly stolen because so many are enrolled with AKC.