File photo: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The SPCA’S Tara McGovern said there had been an increase in reports of stolen dogs during the last six to eight months.

“Dog theft affects all areas, no suburb is immune to dog theft. Keep your pets inside your property, secured behind a gate. It is vital owners microchip their pets as this can increase chances of reuniting an owner with a stolen or missing pet,” said McGovern.

Last week, Ray Arendse from Lansdowne had two Rottweilers stolen after they were lured outside the yard.

She said the dogs could be seen jumping over the wall in CCTV footage.

“I didn’t sleep, we were looking for them on the street, calling out their names. I even rallied a group together to help look for them. The next day I put out an R10 000 reward for them on social media,” said Arendse.

“My dogs are family, they are so lovable and come from a loving home. They went missing on the day they were due for their yearly injections. I didn’t want them to get sick so I appealed on social media that whoever had them to take them for it."

She received a call two days after her dogs were taken, from someone who had allegedly bought the dog for R1 700. They were reunited but Arendse said her dogs were traumatised.

“I was very upset about what happened. I don’t know who would have been more lost, my daughter or myself without them. I am actually just glad that it was a house they ended up with and not a dogfighting club,” she said.

Police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said a case of dog theft had been opened at Lansdowne police station for investigation.

Animal Welfare Society spokesperson Allan Perrins added: “Some breeds are at a much higher risk than others due to their intrinsic value. They are naively seen as status symbols and more often than not the only way that anyone without the means to afford them can acquire them is to steal them.

“There was a time when there was a surge in the theft and smuggling of dogs across our borders to neighbouring countries for sinister reasons, including alleged dogfighting and security purposes, with would-be buyers willing to pay handsomely for certain breeds such as Boerboels, German Shepherds, pit bulls and bull terriers."

Perrins said thieves are less likely to steal a neutered or spayed pet.

“Sadly, the City of Cape Town’s initiative to get all pet owners to register their pets on a central database was not well supported. This, coupled with the micro-chipping of pets, was thought to be a reliable way of proving ownership beyond any doubt,” he added.

Pet owners should take regular photographs of their animals and store them, Perrins said. This will significantly strengthen any future claims of entitlement and ownership.

“We would strongly discourage pet owners from posting financial rewards and acceding to ransom demands. These serve as incentives and can be counter-productive."

He said that those find a lost pet need to note that in terms of South African law, "finders does not equal keepers", adding: "Anyone who finds a stray animal is obliged to surrender it to their nearest pound which has a legal mandate to deal with lost and found animals and anyone buying a pet or livestock should be very wary of a too good to be true deal as they could end up being charged for buying and being in possession of stolen property."

Weekend Argus