The public has been urged not to to be extra-vigilant and not buy puppies on street as incidences of dognapping in Cape Town spikes. File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Dognapping, or the theft of dogs, has become such a problem in the city that animal welfare organisations are warning owners to be extra-vigilant.

Over the past six to eight months, the organisations have noticed a spike in dog theft, which they ascribe to the bad economic times, leading people to employ desperate measures to acquire an income.

Spokesperson for Cape of Goodhope SPCA Tara McGovern, said there had been an influx to its centre of rescued dogs stolen in the past six to eight months.

Animal Welfare Society (AWS) spokesperson Allan Perrins said there was a big demand for puppies in Cape Town and a number of incidents where street vendors were apprehended for selling animals.

“People are tempted to buy these animals on the street because they think they are doing a good thing. However, they are indirectly promoting the demand in this illegal market,” said Perrins.

Cape Animal Welfare Forum chairperson Karen De Klerk said: “Puppy selling in Cape Town has always been an issue. But the public are now far more aware that it is illegal and are taking the right steps to report sellers to law enforcement who have been supportive in helping the public and welfare organisations to respond to reports of illegal puppy selling.”

De Klerk added that as difficult as it was, the public should not buy puppies on the street because it automatically created a market.

If the market was supported, then more puppies would be bred and/or stolen for the purpose of getting cash.

“If everyone helps by not buying puppies on the street, we will be able to stop the trade.

“Accurate statistics of dog theft are not available as theft can never be confirmed, but it’s a fact that many of the dogs reported missing have been stolen. Stolen dogs, particularly those who are intact males, will be used for breeding, trafficking to other countries and/or cities and sold for cash,” said De Klerk.

McGovern said: “The best method to ensure your dog is not stolen is prevention - keep your pets inside your property, secured behind a gate, keep them indoors, especially overnight. It’s vital for owners to microchip their pets as this can increase chances of reuniting an owner with a stolen or missing pet.

“Avoid buying animals from a pet hawker as it supports illicit breeding and perpetuates a cycle of animal cruelty,” she said.

The public is encouraged to contact law enforcement, SPCA or AWS inspectors to request assistance when witnessing illegal trading of animals.


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Cape Argus